CAPE TOWN - After a sluggish start to the season in the Dstv Premiership, the Kaizer Chiefs engine is beginning to rumble with the Amakhosi earning their second successive league victory with a thrilling 2-1 win over Cape Town City on Saturday afternoon.
Gavin Hunt’s charges certainly appear to be a rejuvenated group and took full advantage of a makeshift Cape Town City defence to claim the much-needed three points at Cape Town Stadium. After flirting with the relegation zone just a couple of games ago, Chiefs are now back in the top eight.
In the absence of Bafana Bafana internationals Taariq Fielies (suspension) and Abbubaker Mobara (injured), the home team’s inexperienced central pairing of Keanu Cupido and Ioannis Potouridis were tasked with containing Chiefs hit-man Samir Nurkovic.
However, due to all the focus on Nurkovic in the centre of the park, there were acres of space out on the flanks for the Chiefs’ wide men to exploit.
It did not take long for it to reap dividends with Chiefs youngster Nkosingiphile Ngcobo unleashing a brilliant shot with the outside of his boot to finish off a counter-attack that originated down the left flank that put the visitors ahead after just seven minutes.
Initially the home team did not seem overly fazed with conceding an early deficit and continued to control possession. City stuck to their gameplan of trying to play the ball to feet and build from the back, but increasingly found a resolute Chiefs’ midfield that seemed far better organised than in previous matches this season.
Hunt’s decision to move Daniel Cardoso into a more defensive role is certainly reaping the rewards as Chiefs closed down the spaces quickly and never allowed City to settle into their free-flowing rhythm.
City failed to adapt to Chiefs’ tactics and lost possession close to the halfway line allowing for the ball to be played up field to Nurkovic, who showed great vision to pick out an unmarked Happy Mashiane with a delightful cross-field ball.
With no blue shirt in sight, 23-year-old Mashiane kept his composure to round Peter Leeuwenburgh in City’s goal to calmly steer the ball into an empty net to power Chiefs into a two-goal advantage.
Forced to chase the game after 21 minutes, City hustled and bustled for the remainder of the match. There was an opportunity for influential midfielder Thabo Nododa, who returned from a Covid-19 enforced absence, but his forceful shot could only find a well-positioned Daniel Akpeyi in the Chiefs’ goal.
Akpeyi was again at Chiefs’ rescue shortly after the halftime break when despite being unsighted the Amakhosi shot-stopper flung himself across the goal to his left to deny a rasping low shot from Surprise Ralani.
City had another golden chance when the ball fell to their leading goalscorer Mduduzi Mdantsane within the small box, but the ace poacher only managed to bang his shot against the post from virtually under the bar.
The home team finally found a way past Akpeyi – and reward for their consistent second half raids on the Chiefs goal – when City striker Fagrie Lakay found the back of the net for the third time in two games to set up a tension-filled final seven minutes of this pulsating encounter.
City were now the dominant force and actually on the basis after the adrenalin-charged second half display deserved a share of the spoils, but it was not to be with substitute Craig Martin’s excellent volley in the dying stages of the game squeaking past the outside of Akpeyi’s right post.
The entire City team were left sprawling on the turf in desperation at the final whistle in complete contrast to Chiefs coach Hunt, who could breathe a major sigh of relief as his team showed great courage and fight to hang on until the very end.
Saturday’s other results:
TS Galaxy 0 Chippa United 1
Moroka Swallows 1 Baroka FC 0