Kaizer Chiefs received a big boost heading to round two of the Soweto Derby against foes Orlando Pirates after defeating Chippa United 2-0 in a Premiership tussle at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday night.
The intentions of either side coming into this encounter were clear: Chippa were looking to crawl out of the foot of the standings, and subsequently bag their first win of the season, while Chiefs were looking to extend their lead at the summit.
The visitors achieved that feat with rather a makeshift team, Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp made a whopping eight changes to the team that started in the 2-2 draw with arch-rivals Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knockout quarter-final clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
Samir Nurkovic, Daniel Cardoso and Willard Katsande were the only returnees, while among the new men there was a first appearance of the season for Kgotso Moleko, who started in his natural right-back role after being dethroned by Reeve Frosler and Njabulo Blom.
This was a two-edged approach by Middendorp, considering runners-up Mamelodi Sundowns started with their regulars against Baroka FC at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium. The German tactician couldn’t risk it, considering the highly anticipated return match of the Soweto Derby is three days away.
It was inevitable that Chiefs were in this encounter with their minds on the upcoming Soweto Derby, Norman Mapeza’s men had reason to believe they could hand Amakhosi their biggest shock of the season.
In the eighth-minute, the Chilli Boys should have taken a surprise lead via Silas Maziya, who unfortunately shot his thunderbolt efforts high-up into the stands despite having Bruce Bvuma worried.
Soon after, Chippa returned to test the waters with Boikanyo Komane, whose long-range shot was palmed away from danger by Bvuma.
Chiefs, however, flipped the script and went in search of the lead. It was Siyabonga Ngezana, in the 27th minute, that nearly put his team ahead, ballooning his header to the stands after connecting with a Bernard Parker corner-kick.
Chiefs' persistence forced Chippa to, literally, crumble in defence. Even before the stroke of half-time, the Chilli Boys had used all their substitutes, with Sandile Mthethwa, Gregory Damons, Kurt Lentjies replacing the injured Elvis Moyo, Komane and Frederic Nsabiyumva.
Chiefs came close to punishing Chippa errors, with Nurkovic rattling the upright with a side-footer at the stroke of half-time after being teed up by a lovely chip from Willard Katsande.
In the second half, the log leaders continued where they left off in the first, throwing men in numbers, avoiding any chances of being caught on the back-foot, especially with Chippa having given Sundowns a run for their money in the TKO here on Sunday.
The visitors, who were the whipping boys here after Chippa pulled off a 1-0 victory on the last day of the last season, were duly paid off with their persistence.
In the 67th minute, Dumisani Zuma put his team in the driving seat with a grass-cutter on the edge of the penalty area after being set-up by Katsande from close-range.
With two minutes into stoppage time, Zuma completed his brace with an easy finish after punishing the sleeping Chippa defence with a close-range effort, sealing a result that sent a strong message to sworn enemies Pirates.