Mandaza goal rocks Chiefs

2012-10-27 00:00

AN absolutely breathtaking header from Zimbabwean striker Terrance Mandaza in the last and 97th minute of play secured a dramatic 1-1 draw for Maritzburg United against Kaizer Chiefs in front of a capacity crowd at Harry Gwala stadium last night.

With 10 000 people packed into the stadium, the atmosphere was electric, and when Mandaza smashed in his header from distance he ripped off his shirt and sprinted to the home fans section in a moment that United fans will cherish forever.

It may have only been a draw, but the celebrations that followed resembled those for a league championship.

Chiefs had taken the lead in the 21st minute when Lehlohonolo Majoro took advantage of some sloppy United defending to blast his side ahead.

United coach Ernst Middendorp had opted for a side similar to the one that knocked Moroka Swallows out of the Telkom Knockout a week ago, but young Frank Gyamfi was given a start ahead of Mandaza on the wing in what was a bold move on the coach’s part.

But Gyamfi was United’s most promising attacker on the night, and was the shining light in a first half that was dominated by the visitors.

United struggled to find any rhythm and the Chiefs duo of Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Willard Katsande pulled the strings in the middle of the park.

The energetic Ryan de Jongh was shown a yellow card in the 27th minute for a dangerous challenge on Letsholonyane, and Middendorp sacrificed the midfielder shortly afterwards, bringing on Mandaza.

“I didn’t want to take the risk with Ryan on a yellow card, so we pulled him off,” Middendorp explained after the match.

By half time it seemed that there would be no way back for United, but the side that came out onto the pitch in the second half was not the same one that started the match.

The hosts began stringing some passes together and with Gyamfi causing problems down the right flank and Mandaza beginning to link up with fellow countryman Cuthbert Malajila up front, the home fans never lost hope as long as the score remained 1-0.

As the half progressed, Chiefs players went to ground far too easily and made the most of their “injuries” in an attempt to eat up the clock in what was not a good advertisement for South African football. When United captain and goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters lost the plot at Abia Nale for laying on the pitch after a collision, it was clear to all that United had had enough of the tactic.

But all of the time wasting resulted in seven minutes of injury time at the end of the match, and had Chiefs not tried so desperately to waste as many precious minutes as they could, the result might have finished in their favour.

“It is absolutely justice,” Middendorp said. “It is perfectly fine to waste as much time as you can, but if you want to go down that route then you must be prepared for it to bounce back at you.”

The result means that Chiefs stay top of the PSL standings on 18 points, while United move up to second on 13 points, though they will move further down the log by the end of the weekend.

“I am very happy with not only the result but the performance we showed in the second half,” said Midendorp. “We kept going and we never gave up.”

Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter was less impressed by United. “I am not concerned with the home team, I just felt that we deserved more,” he said.

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