Despite Kaizer Chiefs striker Ryan Moon missing a penalty in first half stoppage time, Erick Mathoho’s lone header was enough to book Amakhosi’s place in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
On Saturday night, Kaizer Chiefs looked to keep their only hope of silverware this season alive as they hosted Baroka FC at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The clash promised fireworks as both sides were desperate to make the final four, but for Amakhosi in particular, the clash held added significance considering Chiefs’ poor form against the Limpopo-based outfit.
Nonetheless, as expected with so much pressure on head coach Steve Komphela’s shoulders, the 50-year-old opted for his strongest possible starting XI with Erick Mathoho brought in due to his aerial threat from set pieces. On the side of Baroka though, coach MacDonald Makhubedu made several changes with one enforced change due the suspension of influential midfielder Mpho Kgaswane.
The opening minutes of the first half saw Baroka looking to spoil the party as it was them who first tested Itumeleng Khune. Robin Ngalande lined up a shot from outside the box which in the end was comfortably caught by the Chiefs keeper.
Baroka were really taking the game to the Soweto giants and forced several uncharacteristic mistakes out of the Chiefs players. But with 16 minutes played, Chiefs began to settle and came more into the game with Ryan Moon testing the Baroka keeper as he latched onto a dangerous cross and saw his header superbly saved by Ayanda Dlamini in the Baroka goal.
Meanwhile, with Chiefs gaining confidence they began playing a higher line, and this almost saw Baroka’s leading goal scorer catch Khune off his line from just after the half way line. But the on-loan Orlando Pirates forward’s effort lacked the desired accuracy as it sailed over the goal.
Despite Baroka looking good going forward, they were unable to test Khune, whilst Dlamini at the other end was certainly the busier of the two keepers and having an impressive outing. The Baroka keeper first came up the goods as he denied Ramahlwe Mphahlele as he latched on a loose ball at the far post, before he again came to Baroka’s rescue as he somehow denied Ekstein’s effort from point blank range after Moons eventual effort rattled the woodwork.
Nonetheless, with time running out in the half, Dlamini’s resistance was finally breached as Mathoho guided Tshabalala’s corner into the back of the net. Just before the break, Chiefs had another chance to double their advantage as Leonardo Castro was brought down in the box, but Moon would fire the resultant penalty into the stands as the home side took the slender lead into the half-time interval.
The resumption of the second half immediately saw Baroka on the attack as they looked for an early equaliser. Baroka were awarded a free kick just outside the area following Teenage Hadebe’s reckless tackle, but a routine taken directly off the training ground did not work.
At the other end, Castro was a constant headache for the Baroka defenders to deal with as his physicality and height meant that Baroka needed to be on their toes. Baroka were certainly not giving up without a fight, and Talent Chawapiwa was showing why he was most recently called up to the Zimbabwe national team. The winger shifted onto the right flank and left the Chiefs full-back for dead, before playing a cross into the box which had Khune breathing a sigh of relief as Richard Matloga’s header was kept out by the woodwork.
The away side continued to push forward in search of the all-important equaliser, and while they created opportunities which Khune needed to deal with, they left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack which Chiefs looked to exploit.
But in spite of the dangers, Baroka were having a real go at Chiefs to their credit, but it would be to no avail as Chiefs held on to keep their hopes of a Nedbank Cup title alive.