Kaizer Chiefs top eight hopes still alive after win against Golden Arrows
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JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs had no room to mourn the sacking of coach Gavin Hunt against Golden Arrows at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night. They played like a team that was possessed as they came-from-behind twice to defeat Arrows 3-2 to keep their chances of finishing in the top eight alive.
After the penultimate round of matches in the DStv Premiership, Chiefs climbed to ninth on the standings with 33 points, three points behind the eighth placed TS Galaxy who were held to a goalless draw by relegation threatened Stellenbosch FC away from home.
There was a time in this match where Chiefs’ supporters must have felt: here we go. That they were on a backfoot early on has been one of the reasons which led to Chiefs’ demise this season. Chiefs, though, had a strong finish to the first half after grabbing the equaliser.
They further showed a never-say-die attitude even in the second half. Despite trailing for a second time in the match through an unfortunate own goal from Eric Mathoho, the introduction of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo gave the home side a breath of fresh air going forward.
Ngcobo made a daring run into the box before laying off the ball for an onrushing Lebogang Manyama who poked the ball past an onrushing Sifiso Mlungwana who was battling with with a shoulder injury for th duration of the match, a day when he got an Under-23 call-up.
Ngcobo and Manyama yet again combined for Chiefs’ winner. Ngcobo set-up Manyama who slotted past Mlungwana in front of goal for his third. This win set-up Chiefs well for a possible finish in the top eight, considering they'll meet Galaxy in the last game of the season on Saturday.
Interim coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillion Sheppard came to this match under pressure, following the dismal of Hunt after just nine months in charge. Hunt was fired after a string of poor results in domestic football, despite an impressive continental campaign.
Chiefs might be languishing in the bottom half of the standings but they’ll still face Wydad Casablanca in the semi-finals of the Champions League next month. But the latter was not enough as Chiefs relieved the 56-year-old from his duties with four matches still guaranteed to play.
Zwane and Sheppard, who knew that a strong finish will bring a huge morale booster heading to those back-to-back continental football, didn't change too much from the defeat against relegated Black Leopards, starting with Bruce Bvuma in goals ahead of Daniel Akpeyi.
Bruce who’s spent the better part of the season on the standings is proving to be colossal for the team. Despite Chiefs losing 3-0 against Simba SC in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, he made crucial saves which ensured they still won the tie by 4-3.
Even against Arrows, he stood between his team conceding first after making early saves, including the pin-point stop to deny Knox Mutizwa from close-range. Even when Michael Gumede put his side ahead with a rebound shot that came off Mathoho, Bvuma made the initial stop.
With Bvuma proving to be a breath of fresh air for Chiefs defence, the team’s attacking contingent started to gain momentum. They nearly had an immediate response but Mlungwana was saved from his blushes, after spilling the ball, by his defensive structure which regrouped.
But there was no denying Chiefs the equaliser after the half-an-hour mark after Willard Katsande raced his way into Arrows’ box before setting up Manyama who slotted past Mlungwana. Chiefs looked to be the most vigorous side heading to the break and in the second half.