It was a difficult week for Steve Komphela and company due to the criticism that has been directed towards the team following their drubbing at the hands of Chippa United last weekend, which subsequently led to an emergency meeting having to be called up.
But with only a Caf position now up for grabs, Chiefs’ 50-year-old mentor hoped for a better response from his charges. As expected Komphela made several changes with the likes of Bernard Parker and Tsepo Masilela coming into the starting XI.
Meanwhile, with Dikwena’s focus firmly on league survival, coach Roger De Sa went with his tried and tested after their 2-0 victory over Polokwane City last weekend.
Chiefs looked determined from the onset and Philani Zulu had the game’s first shot in anger within five minutes of the opening whistle as he sent an effort way off target. But while Amakhosi looked eager, it was Stars who were the more comfortable of the two sides, winning the initial midfield battle. Attacker Riyaad Norodien in particular, was a constant threat for the Rustenburg-based outfit upfront as his skill and pace kept the Chiefs defence on their toes.
However, Chiefs’ wide play was proving a danger to Stars especially with Joseph Molangoane’s runs on the right side of the field. With just over 20 minutes played, the former Chilli Boys winger played a superb cross into the box but it was little behind Ryan Moon who failed to direct his header goalward.
While the game began promisingly it would eventually fizzle out and become a battle of attrition with chances difficult to come by. Chiefs would have to wait until the half hour mark to have their first real chance on goal as the Stars keeper was finally forced into a save. Leonardo Castro took matters into his own hands and lined up a shot from outside the box only for the Stars keeper to make a smart stop as he pushed the ball around the post.
The Colombian was Chiefs most attacking outlet in the half as he again threatened the away side’s goal minutes later, only for his volley to go just wide of goal. That would be the last threat on goal off the half as both sides went into the break deadlocked.
The resumption of the second half saw Chiefs up the ante and played with a little more intent. That change of mindset would eventually pay off minutes after the restart as Ekstein poked a Molangoane cross home giving Chiefs some much-needed respite.
The goal seemed to calm the Chiefs players’ nerves and allowed them to express themselves a little more on the field, while for Stars they looked beleaguered and devoid of ideas. The remainder of the clash was by no means a thriller as once again it became a cagey affair, but Chiefs did look the more likely to score especially from set pieces.
With an hour played, Willard Katsande had his head on the end of a dangerous corner but the Zimbabwean failed to guide his header on target to the relief of the Stars bench. Chiefs continued to look dangerous and perhaps should have killed off the clash with 20 minutes to go. Once again it was Katsande who was in the thick of things along with Siyabonga Ngezana, but with the goal at their mercy, a moment of indecision from both men saw Katsande fire his effort from close range into the stands.
In an effort to add further stability to the midfield with 10 minutes to go Komphela threw on Siphiwe Tshabalala in place of Masilela. The change added a little more fluidity to the Chiefs attack and with the final whistle looming they looked to find an assurance goal. But this time Parker was unable to guide his shot on target. Minutes later, Parker was again on the prowl, only for another shot to go wide.
Nonetheless, Chiefs would eventually hang on for the win, giving Komphela something to smile about.