Kaizer Chiefs chalk up back-to-back victories with win over Leopards
Two victories out of two at the start of the new season might lead many Kaizer Chiefs fans to start believing again but AmaKhosi will be the first to admit it is still far too early to talk of a resurrection.
But six points from two hard-fought games promises much, even while the search for better fluency in the build-up, sharper combinations and clinical finishing continues, and looks to have some way to go.
Mulomowandau Mathoho is among those grabbing a new opportunity after two miserable injury-filled season and his 12th minute header from George Maluleke’s corner continued his impressive return as AmaKhosi beat Black Leopards at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Saturdady's late Absa Premiership match.
He timed his run to meet the flight of the ball perfectly and powered it home as Leopards’ new international goalkeeper Jonas Mendes was caught in no-man’s land.
Mathoho grabbed the winner for Chiefs in their season-opener game against Highlands Park last Sunday and six days later was again a scorer, even if his major contribution was a stout defence performance alongside Daniel Cardoso in the heart of the defence.
It is one part of the puzzle beginning to take shape.
In midfield, Lebogang Manyama is also back from a long term injury and adding energy to the Chiefs’ build-up and the new Serbian striker Samir Nujkovic has a good first touch and does a lot of good work off the ball.
Once Itumeleng Khune is back, in a few weeks, Chiefs might yet have proper title-winning credentials.
Chiefs, into a fifth season without a trophy, will feel there was opportunity for a more handsome victory but half chances did not fall their way on a heavy pitch at the Durban venue.
“We could have been smarter but I think it was still a fully deserved win,” said coach Ernst Middendorp at the finals whistle.
Manyama should have had his third goal of the season when he was free on goal with 15 minutes left but Mendes, who played for Guinea Bissau at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June, made an outstanding save.
In the last five minutes, Maluleke stuck a long-range effort that struck the crossbar.
Leopards, who have now lost their opening two games, passed the ball around plenty but lacked penetration.
They handed a debut to Cuthbert Malajila, who is supposed to take the place of last season’s top goal scorer Mwape Musonda, who looks to be leaving.
Malajila will be concerned about the level of service he received and Leopards’ management will be worried they could be set for another season of fighting against the potential of the drop.
To their credit, they did keep fighting towards the end but their only chance fell to substitute Joseph Mhlongo, whose effort from close range was blocked.
Both clubs now have a fortnight’s wait before their next fixtures because they failed to qualify for the MTN8.