Quarter-final agony for Chiefs in Polokwane

2012-04-14 21:14

If a game of football was won on the basis of which club had the most number of fans routing for them, then Kaizer Chiefs would have no doubt won this Nedbank Cup quarter-final before even kicking a ball.

Last year, at the very same ground and the stage of the competition, Baroka FC provided one of the biggest upsets in South African football history when they knocked Chiefs. Free State Stars must have had at least about 18 fans, supported by a few Orlando Pirates flag-waving fans, cheering for them here last night.

Even the mild celebrations that followed Dove Wome’s headed goal in the 59th minute alluded to this.

Seemingly though, the sight of 25 000 vuvuzela blowing fans dressed in the gold and black of the Amakhosi, didn’t trouble the boys from the Free State.

Coached by Steve Komphela, who himself captained the side when most of the current squad were still in nappies, Stars never once looked overawed by the occasion.

Some Amakhosi fans probably wished that Stars midfield livewire Mpho Makola was turning out for their side on the night.

Makola, playing in an attacking midfield role, had Chiefs in trouble for most of the game, making darting runs from deep in midfield, initiating neat passing moves and delivering pin point passes that had the Amakhosi rearguard in trouble.

Stars closed down Chiefs quickly, never allowing them to settle into a rhythm.

They frustrated Chiefs further by adding a little more bite to their tackles, resulting in constant stoppages that broke Chiefs rhythm.

Komphela spent the entire duration of the match on his feet, spurring on his Stars and throwing an occasional tantrum when he disagreed with a refereeing decision or when one of his charges didn’t play to instruction.

On the Chiefs bench, the Doctor Khumalo and Donald Khuse magic didn’t seem to inspire the boys on the pitch. The Amakhosi just didn’t look like a team that deserved to be in the semi-finals.

The players lacked ideas and never once came close to matching the grit and flair of Komphela’s boys. Khumalo, who also spent much of the game on his feet desperately trying to inspire his charges, was left to watch Chiefs’ cup dream fail under the bright stars of a chilly Polokwane.

It was never going to be a high scoring game though, with chances few and far between in the first half, until the 22nd minute when Chiefs conceded corner after Makola’s shot was parried for a corner.

Jimmy Jambo almost put one past his goalie, but Arthur Baartman was quick to parry the ball for a corner.

The Chiefs midfield failed to sparkle, leaving strikers Lehlohonolo Majoro and S’thembiso Ngcobo to chase shadows for much of the game.

In the end, Chiefs’ cup dream ended at Polokwane, where only a few weeks ago Majoro had raised the hopes of glory by putting four past Leopards.

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