Chiefs deliver last-gasp killer blows

2009-12-07 00:00

MARITZBURG United appeared to have done enough to earn a hardfought draw from their Premier Soccer League game against Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday.

But that was until Jimmy Jambo and Abia Nale produced stunning goals in the 82nd and 87th minutes to earn Chiefs an ultimately convincing 3-1 victory.

Following Friday’s World Cup Final Draw in Cape Town, 2010 fever has gripped South Africa. Yesterday, while it might have been Chiefs and not Bafana Bafana playing, the atmosphere and excitement geared towards the World Cup was easily tangible.

And what was evident, even with 40 000 people in the stadium as opposed to the 70 000 it will hold in 2010, was that Moses Mabhida with a big crowd is one of the most magnificent, atmospheric football venues in the world.

This should have been the opening game for the World Cup semi-final venue, rather than last week’s dull 1-1 draw between AmaZulu and United.

The weather was better, though referee Daniel Bennett had the players stop for water-breaks in a match played in muggy humidity. And the football was better too, with two teams probing at each other in a tactical game that was played at a rhythmic pace and tempo.

And Chiefs, of course, brought their star quality to the game, as the attraction of players such as Bafana stars Siphiwe Tshabalala, Itumeleng Khune and Reneilwe Letsholonyane saw tickets sold out by Friday.

United made three new signings on Friday, and they all made an immediate impact yesterday. Goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters from Bloemfontein Celtic, forward Kurt Lentjies from Mamelodi Sundowns and strapping central defender Mario Booysens from Ajax Cape Town gave Maritzburg a more balanced, solid make-up.

United were a little fortunate to go into the break at 1-1. The Team of Choice seemed a little overly conservative in the first 45 minutes against a Chiefs team who, as United showed in a 1-0 victory at Orlando Stadium earlier this season, are at their most vulnerable when rattled and put under pressure.

While Chiefs had the greater share of the early half-chances, it was United who had the best opportunity. Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune spilled his take and with the ’keeper stranded Felix Obada’s cross was aimed at Fadlu Davids, but Thomas Sweswe was able to get up for the intercept.

Chiefs opened the scoring in simple, clinical manner when the skilful Nale rounded Elias Ngwepe on the right and fed Nhleko in the middle, who finished with a well-placed strike.

United’s equaliser in the 42nd minute came out of the blue when midfielder Musa Nyatama easily ghosted past defender Thabang Rooi to be one-on-one with Khune, and calmly slotted.

Chiefs started the second half with intent and had a great chance when Nale turned past Bageta Dikilu, but scooped his shot wide with just Walters to beat.

While United kept taking too many touches in attacking areas, Chiefs kept creating chances, as Nhleko volleyed wide from Josta Dladla’s chip over the defence.

When United finally did go the direct route, Rudolf Bester rocked the woodwork with one of his trademark shots from range.

The home team appeared to be finishing the game strongly and were the side probing for a winner in the last half-hour.

But it was Chiefs who came up with the killer blow when Zimbabwean left-back Jambo beat right-back Byron Henricks and struck his shot past Walters from an impossible angle. Nale rammed home the advantage when he beat Booysen and deftly chipped Walters.

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