Baroka players celebrate after scoring against Kaizer Chiefs in Durban on Saturday night. Photo: Gerald Duraan/BackpagePix

DURBAN – There was no surprise when Baroka FC shot to the top of the Absa Premiership table with a 2-1 triumph over Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night. 

A goal in each half from Lewis Macha and Gift Motupa cancelled George Maluleka’s opener, and took Baroka three points clear above Golden Arrows. It kept them unbeaten with a fourth victory from seven matches.

For Chiefs, the result marked their second loss of the league campaign and heaped the pressure on coach Steve Komphela, who is in his third season in charge with nothing to show in terms of silverware.

Not even bringing this fixture to their alternative home base could see the Amakhosi break their home duck.

Chiefs started with two changes from their last outing, a goalless draw at home against Golden Arrows. George Maluleka returned to the starting line-up after injury and partnered another returnee, Wiseman Meyiwa, in midfield.

The former made an immediate impact, giving Chiefs the lead in the ninth minute with a neat finish from outside the box after a breakaway move from Philani Zulu.

That was about it from Chiefs. They created half-chances at best thereafter.

Allowing Baroka the space to run at them gave Richard Matloga licence to attack, and he used his wing wizardry to torment the Chiefs backline. 

Twice he laid the ball on a platter for his attackers. First Sipho Moeti side-footed centimetres wide from close range, and on the second occasion that Matloga skinned Zulu, striker Lewis Macha and Siphelele Ntshangase got their wires crossed. 

The equaliser was inevitable. Midway through the half, Ntshangase arrowed in a free-kick and Lewis Macha punished his parent club with a header at the near post.

The Zambian, on loan at Baroka after a quiet debut season last term, led the line well and connected with Ntshangase to open the Chiefs defence.

Matters got worse for the home side at their alternative base on the coast. Uruguayan forward Gustavo Paez went off injured before the break, and was replaced by Bernard Parker.

Coming into the game unbeaten and among the early pacesetters, Baroka continued their attacking ways after the interval.

Their front-line was freshened with the introductions of Robin Ngalande and Gift Motupa for Mduduzi Mdantsane and Ntshangase respectively. 

Chiefs also came out looking to get ahead and played with a bit more assertiveness. It became an end-to-end affair on the patchy pitch, damp from the thunderstorms the night before.

Richard Matloga of Baroka FC wins the aerial battle against Philani Zulu of Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Gerald Duraan/BackpagePix

The partisan crowd of just over 10 000, nor the greasy underfoot conditions hampered Baroka.

Exuding confidence and driven forward by their animated coach Kgoloko Thobejane, the visitors deservedly took the lead, with Motupa finishing from inside the box in the 57th minute.

It temporarily silenced the vuvuzelas and whistles from the stands. Chiefs were still in it, and Siphiwe Tshabalala enjoyed a few half-chances playing next to Parker in a twin attack.

But Baroka regrouped defensively to contain the threats. 

Knowing victory would take them top of the standings, above Golden Arrows who earlier drew 1-1 against Chippa United, the visitors put in a solid shift defensively in front of goalkeeper Virgil Vries, and threatened only on the counter as they rode out a comfortable and deserved win.

IOL Sport