Double the glory!

2013-05-26 10:00

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In beating SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup final yesterday, Kaizer Chiefs not only clinched their first PSL-ear League and Cup double, it opens up the opportunity campaign in the CAF Champions League exclusively.

For their losing effort, SuperSport will get the chance to right their Confederations Cup wrongs.

AmaKhosi cannot be every where at once and they have have a score to settle with Caf competitions.

Besides their 2001 Mandela Cup victory, Kaizer Chiefs have not been very friendly with the continent. They were banned for four year in 2005 for not pitching at a fixture which clashed with a season-ending game.

With Pirates in the Champions League group stages, it will be a new history Chiefs will have to write.

Bernard Parker rose to the occasion when he was called upon.

The Glamour Boys were not their usual spunky selves yesterday, but panache, more often than not, hasn’t delivered trophies.

This was everything a final should not be, but the biggest expectations have often led to the most heartbreaking of disappointments.

The boss lady that is the Absa Premiership seemed to have sapped both sides, with the poor mistress Nedbank Cup having to make do with the scraps.

It has been a long and exciting 2012/13 season, and this game did not do justice to it. Then again, finals are won by goals scored, not by fancy football.

The green-dollar clash was billed as a goalkeeper festival, with two of the best stoppers in the country going up against each other.

They did not have much to do in the opening 20 minutes, though, with Lehlohonolo Majoro’s tame effort from an offside position the only hair-raising moment Ronwen Williams had.

But it was a foretaste of what was to come much later in the game. What the opening stanza hid was a ferocious midfield battle, in which a quarter was neither given nor taken.

Willard Katsande and Reneilwe Letsholonyane have been monumental for AmaKhosi throughout the season, but with Mogogi Gabonamong approaching his abrasive best, Chiefs did not have the kind of latitude they’ve had all season.

At times, it seemed the midfield was as packed as the adjacent Umgeni Road prior to kickoff. That congestion led to generally poor passing and many a poor final touch.

For the better part of the first half, the strikers were mere spectators.

Siphiwe Tshabalala fed off the electrifying atmosphere, but he had reason not to trawl his favoured left flank.

In his way was a rather small obstacle in 19-year-old Thabo Moloi, whose maturity and resilience belied his age.

Most teenagers suffer from stage fright, but keeping rampaging southpaws George Lebese and Tsepo Masilela in check is no mean feat.

His centre backs Bevan Fransman and Edwin Gyimah, impressive in the corresponding league fixture two weeks ago, worked hard for their wages.

It was the Chiefs defence who nearly paid the price for falling asleep, with Siboniso Gaxa’s crucial 38th-minute tackle halting George Maluleka’s charge on goal.

The fulcrum of the move was the effervescent Kermit Erasmus and not even the hot Durban sun could plug his fizz. It was the only highlight of a rather forgettable half.

The lethargy in front of goal continued until just after the hour mark when Parker, a church mouse for the best part of the game, forced Williams into the best save of the game.

The culprit was Gyimah, who momentarily showed the weakness he displayed in the ENPPI game.

Like machine gun fire, Amakhosi’s barrage was fast and sustained. Some attacking verve from the mercurial Siyabonga Nkosi gave Chiefs an added edge.

It became a siege in the last five minutes, but questionable decision making from Chiefs robbed them of the opportunity to avoid extra time. But at some stage SuperSport simply had to wilt.

Only four minutes of extra time were required to break their will, with Parker springing up from nowhere to latch onto a Tshabalala pass. It was long in coming, but thoroughly deserved. The goal well and truly knocked the stuffing out of the defending champions.

The only solace for them is the CAF Confederations Cup, but there could only be one winner. And AmaKhosi have risen.

The green jacket candidates:

SuperSport United

8 – Sibusiso Zuma: The evergreen forward rolled back the years in a virtuoso performance in which he attracted attention every time he touched the ball. He was a constant menace throughout the game.

7 – Edwin Gyimah: His positioning was erratic at the best of times, but his tackle execution was top-class. He stopped many Chiefs forays and deserved to be Man Of The Match.

7 – Kermit Erasmus: Preventing Tsepo Masilela from going forward is not easily done, but pinning him in his own half is even better. That’s what Erasmus did, but he faded as the game wore on.

Kaizer Chiefs

8 – Siphiwe Tshabalala: His lack of a good right foot will always be a hindrance, but whenever he had the ball, the SuperSport defence looked shaky.

8 – Siyabonga Nkosi: He may have been a substitute, but he gave his team the guile they were so desperately missing.

7 – Willard Katsande: It was an understated but effective performance from Kaizer Chiefs’ midfielder of the season. He struggled to keep up with SuperSport’s pace, but made up for it with sheer dogged application.

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