JOHANNESBURG – It might be early days, but pressure appears to be all but mounting for coach Stuart Baxter after his Kaizer Chiefs’ side were hammered 4-1 by new kids on the block Royal AM in a DStv Premiership match at the FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
This was Chiefs’ second successive defeat in a week. A week ago, they were beaten 2-0 by champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Tshwane. Chiefs will be disappointed by the results, given their championship aspirations.
That loss away from home saw some of their supporters complain over the selection of Baxter who had once again overlooked the Defender of the Season Njabulo Ngcobo. But the Bafana international was handed his debut at home.
But Ngcobo had a debut to forget as he played a role in their first goal they conceded. But it won’t only be Ngcobo who’ll be disappointed with his debut, given the fact that Brandon Petersen also had to pick up the ball from the back of his net four times.
Meanwhile, it was a happy day in camp for Royal AM and Victor Letsoalo who bagged a brace. This was Royal AM’s second win in a row after beating Chippa United. Credit should go to coach John Maduka for his player management.
Following that defeat to Sundowns, Chiefs needed a response if they were going to reshape their campaign. Coach Stuart Baxter, meanwhile, made two changes, with Petersen and Ngcobo replacing Bruce Bvuma and Austin Dube.
The visitors were the first team to test the waters. Given Mashikinya sent a high weighted ball which found striker Victor Letsoalo. Letsoalo chest-trapped well before turning and putting his close-range against the upright of Petersen goals.
Chiefs, though, responded with a baptism of fire against a Royal AM defence that was enduring a nervy start. Khama Billiat should have found the match opener, but his side footed low effort rolled past the far post of Hugo Nyame.
With great interplay in the engine room between Cole Alexander and Phathutshedzo Nange, there were more in roads to Royal AM’s final third. But Chiefs were lacklustre in front of goal, with Samir Nurkovic not getting in the right channels.
But it was Alexander who missed a shot that they’d go on to regret in the first half. Against the run of play, Billiat set free the latter who was one-on-one with Nyame. But Alexander unceremoniously put his last effort wide of an open net.
Royal AM, though, would find the lead after some poor defending from Chiefs. Levy Mashiane sent a curling effort which caught Ngcobo and Eric Mathoho napping. The loose ball found Letsoalo whose diving header sailed past Petersen.
Royal AM were unfortunate not to head to the interval with a two-goal cushion. On the edge of the penalty, Mashiane laid the ball nicely for Tebogo Potsane but his high-flying shot was exceptionally parried over the crossbar by Petersen.
Chiefs started the second half with vigour. As a result, Keagan Dolly nearly found the equaliser after being put through by Billiat but the latter’s shot was saved by Nyame, while Nurkovic’s shot from the resultant rebound was judged for an offside.
Letsoalo, though, got their second with a trademark free-kick which left Petersen flat-footed. But while Chiefs appeared to respond with a Sifiso Hlanti set-piece, Sibusiso Mabiliso came off the bench to concede a late own goal for Amakhosi.
Mfundo Thikazi put the final nail in the coffin as Royal AM striking contingent caught Chiefs defence in sixes and sevens as they had pushed numbers forward during a corner-kick. Chiefs left a lot to be desired for, while Royal AM were the happy customers.