Kaizer Chiefs dumped out of Nedbank Cup
TEMBISA – The dream of a double winning season has come to an abrupt end for Amakhosi. Having succumbed to a defeat via the lottery of penalty shootout in the Nedbank Cup last 16 here at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday Kaizer Chiefs can only challenge for one trophy this season.
Chiefs who top the Premiership standings – with 10 league matches remaining on their campaigning – will now have a chance to end their four-year barren run via winning the league title as lady luck smiled on Highlands Park after penalties after the two teams played to a draw after 120 minutes.
In a game that was played in wet conditions due to a downpour during the second half, Chiefs will be not be happy about Saturday’s result, considering doing well in the last domestic competition of the season sometimes embodies well for title chasing teams.
Chiefs were that team, rotating their squad as fringe players were also getting game-time, something that could have well came in handy in the final stretch of the season. But sadly, that upper hand has come to an end.
Chiefs’ new acquisition, Athony Agay who was tasked to link up play between the defence and attack had a full debut to forget, looking nervous and rusty with every defensive tackle or forward pass.
But Agay’s sloppiness very well polished Chiefs’ defensive contingent, who proved to be equal to every challenge in the first half, keeping out a Highlands’ attacking unit that was comfortable with their build-up going forward.
Less than a minute into the game, the Lions of the North should have roared themselves into the lead, Agay beaten by the space and skill of Peter Shalulile as the lanky midfielder objected with an illegal tackle just in front of his defensive line.
Luckyboy Mokoenas took the resultant set-piece, uncharacteristically playing it short to Bevan Fransman – instead of taking a dig at Itumeleng Khune goals – who flicked to the far post before the ball connected with Lindokuhle Mbatha who skied his efforts into the stands.
Soon thereafter, Khune further made a case on why he should fully reclaim the No 1 spot after the Daniel Akpeyi blunder a week ago in the league, successfully blocking out Shalulile’s efforts from a one-on-one duel.
Chiefs’ response to Highlands’ baptism of fire was rather usual, using long-ball from wingbacks Kgotso Moleko and Yagan Sasman who navigated lone striker Samir Nurkovic without any success as the lanky centre-backs Fransman and Abdi Banda collected the deliveries with ease.
On the other end, Mbatha though was having an exceptional first half, opening up spaces as he had somewhat of free-way – with Agay and Willard Katsande caught wanting at most – but Chiefs were saved from the jaws of conceding by a resolute defence.
But an unceremonious second unfolded as heaven heavily opened up, forcing the game to be played under sticky and damp conditions as either side had to dig to combine passes. But both sides opted a similar approach to come into the game: using set-pieces and long balls to cut the defence open.
Highlands draw first blood from a resultant free-kick that was excellently delivered by Mokoena who sent a curler that connected with an onrushing Shalulile who easily slotted on Khune’s near post, taking his tally to three goals in two matches.
Chiefs had an immediate response, though, George Maluleka who had replaced the lacklustre Agay before the start of the second half, proving his worth from the outset as he delivered a trademark delivery that was brilliantly but yet unfortunately, headed by Sello Motsepe into his own net.
Both sides hung on – amid the slippery conditions - for a draw after regulation and extra-time before Musa Nyatama proved to be the hero during penalty shoot outs as he scored Highlands last kick, making his team’s efforts during the weather condition bearable.
Highlands Park (0) (1)
Kaizer Chiefs (0) (1)
Motsepe (OG) 63’
Highlands won 5-4 on penalty shoot outs.