Relegation-threatened AmaZulu stun league leaders Kaizer Chiefs
JOHANNESBURG – It’s not over yet. Kaizer Chiefs know very well that they’ll have to grind out results in their bid to win the Premiership title after their campaign received another body blow on Saturday night..
After defeating Orlando Pirates in their previous league encounter, the Amakhosi faithful believed that they are en-route to claim biggest prize in South African football. But they were left bemused as bottom team AmaZulu pulled did the unthinkable at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night.
The solitary strike by Bonginkosi Ntuli in the first half gave the league's basement dwellers hope that they could avoid relegation – especially after coach Jozef Vukusic was suspended due to a string of poor results. But it also gave the teams chasing Chiefs confidence that they can close catch the league leaders at the top of the standings.
Amakhosi remain seven points clear of second-placed and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who have two games in the hand after being involved in continental football over the last two weeks.
The Brazilians, though, will now turn their focus on domestic football for the next two months, especially after crashing out of the Caf Champions League on Saturday afternoon, losing to Al Ahly by 3-1 on aggregate.
#AbsaPremiership - HALFTIME:— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) March 7, 2020
Kaizer Chiefs 0-1 AmaZulu
Bongi Ntuli's well-taken volley sees the Amakhosi trail at the break. How will the second half play out?
Watch live: https://t.co/3wUsZ1pF9y. pic.twitter.com/85hdCwvixb
On Saturday night Chiefs fought the good fight. Amakhosi are known for their route-one football – capitalising on set-pieces. But the Glamour Boys have come up with a different strategy since Lebogang Manyama's solo effort against Pirates in the Soweto derby last week.
But it was new boy, January signing, Anthony Agay that was the focal point in the engine room. He was, after all, replacing the injured captain Willard Katsane, who suffered a calf-muscle injury during the clash against Pirates.
For Agay, the Kenyan, this was no ordinary match. But instead he had to prove that his debut in Makhulong, three weeks ago, and last entrance in the Soweto derby was the pioneering stages of his Chiefs’ career as he starts on the new environment, was about getting to know his teammates.
Agay was a link between the defence and attack in the engine room, with captain of the day George Maluleka playing his attack, which allowed, Chiefs to have more numbers going forward.
Those attacking options looked promising, but they couldn't finish their chances. Striker Leonardo Castro missed the target from close-range, after coming face to face with AmaZulu goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt Amakhosi on the stroke of halftime. Against the run of play, defender Daniel Cardoso defended a high ball to Siyethemba Sitheba, who gave a decisive pass to Talent Chawapiwa. The Zimbabwean then laid off the ball smartly for Ntuli, who was unmarked and slotted it past Daniel Akpeyi at his near post.
Soon after squandering an opportunity to equalise, Manyama put the easiest of tap-ins wide after being set-up by Khama Billiat. But that seemed to give AmaZulu oomph, as they who attacked in numbers shortly afterwards, but Sphesihle Maduna failed hit the target at the end of the flowing move.
The “Zulu Warriors” hung on for the win, ensuring that they won’t go down without a fight, while Chiefs were made to understand that the league race is still a marathon.