Johannesburg — It was far from pretty, but Kaizer Chiefs progressed to the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals after beating minnows Casric Stars 2-1 at a chilly FNB Stadium on Sunday.
This win means that Chiefs kept their chances of ending their seven-year trophy drought and qualifying for the CAF Confederation Cup next season alive.
It also eased the pressure on coach Arthur Zwane who’s now racked up three wins in a row in all competitions.
The progression of arch-rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates to the last eight meant that Chiefs were the only team from the big three yet to book their spot but that wasn’t guaranteed as Chiefs are infamously known for slipping up against minnows in the past.
Sure, the match was a yawn in the first half but there was a crucial moment in the first 10 minutes when Chiefs were awarded a penalty after the ball came off the arm of Mumuni Abubakar.
As Caleb Bimeyimana calmly slotted home to ease the pressure on his team, Zwane remained rooted on his seat while his players, on and off the pitch, and members of the technical team celebrated.
Chiefs should have doubled their lead in no time but they didn’t punish Abubakar’s poor clearance from a corner-kick.
With chances few and far between, referee Olani Kwinda stole the spotlight, dishing out yellow cards as hard tackles flew in from both sides.
Chiefs were unlucky not to go into the break 2-0 up, though, as Mduduzi Shabalala’s shot at goal was brilliantly blocked for a corner-kick by Ludwe Mpakumpaku.
The introduction of Dillan Solomons and Ashley du Preez by Chiefs in the second half gave them fresh legs up front but their porous defence allowed Casric to draw level.
Zitha Kwinika's pass was intercepted by Kgomotso Mosadi, whose shot at goal was parried back into play by Brandon Petersen.
But Mosadi wouldn’t miss twice, thumping the resultant rebound into the top corner as Chiefs’ supporters went into deafening silence.
Chiefs wouldn’t trail for long, though, as Du Preez restored their lead, tapping home a square-ball from Keagan Dolly.
And that’s how things ended as Chiefs booked their last eightt.