JOHANNESBURG – The reigning champions Bidvest Wits are still trying to find their mojo.
And Kaizer Chiefs had appeared to be slowly getting theirs until a last-gasp goal from Amr Gamal meant both sides would share the spoils in a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw on Saturday night.
Amakhosi, although they were far from convincing despite having a numerical advantage from the time Nazeer Allie was sent off for a second bookable offence on the stroke of halftime, were well on their way to clinching a second successive league win.
But they were overpowered by Wits, who had to play the entire second half without their right back.
It remains a woeful start for the title holders as their winless run stretched to seven matches in open play from all their domestic games so far in this campaign.
The Clever Boys are learning some seriously harsh lessons.
Positives, something coaches like to cling to when the going gets tough, were there for Gavin Hunt and his charges, particularly if you consider who got the goal for Wits – a man said to still be adjusting to a foreign league, but has already scored twice in Egyptian Gamal.
Prior to Allie being given his marching orders, Wits looked in control and were making Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune work.
The only shot on target in the first half came from captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, who tested Khune with a low but powerful attempt which sailed into the keeper’s hands, thanks to his positioning.
Wits were slowly working their way to what could have been their first win of this league campaign when Allie was cautioned for the second time following his reckless tackle on Siphiwe Tshabalala – just minutes after he’d fouled winger Bhongolwethu Jayiya from a similar area on the pitch.
Wits still looked stronger at the start of the second half, with Hunt holding off on making changes as he instead shifted Daylon Claasen, an attacking player, to the right back slot where Allie had been operating before going to take an early shower.
It’s around that time that Chiefs broke the deadlock with a well-worked team goal that was eventually finished off by Tshabalala, who was scoring for the second time in as many games after Amakhosi’s 2-0 win away to Cape Town City on Wednesday.
George Maluleka started the build-up as he chipped the ball over to Kgotso Moleko, who had snuck into the Wits penalty box unnoticed before sending through a low cross that was initially aimed for young Wiseman Meyiwa, but Tshabalala arrived – sliding in like a surfer to convert and give Chiefs the lead.
Wits could have quickly level matters, but with Khune in goal, it was always going to be a tough task to be back on level terms.
But they did not stop trying. First it was Vincent Pule with a long-range strike, which hit the post after Khune got enough of a touch to avoid it hitting the back of the net.
Then substitute Gabadinho Mhango also fancied his chances, but Khune, yet again, stood like a wall before he was finally beaten by Gamal, the Al Ahly loanee who had worked tirelessly all night to try and get Wits back in the game.
An absolute stunner that perhaps best summed up the match – a share of the spoils seemed fair, although it still leaves Wits winless in open play from their seven matches.