Kaizer Chiefs six games - and no win
05 May 2019 - 00:00
Kaizer Chiefs could not secure themselves security of a top-eight place, and Free State Stars now are in real relegation danger from yesterday's 1-1 Absa Premiership draw at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Sibusiso Hlubi put Stars ahead in the 53rd minute, Daniel Cardoso equalising from the penalty spot in the 65th.
Chiefs remain rooted in seventh place. Stars now face the drop in 14th place, a point ahead of last-placed Maritzburg United.
A post-mortem of Ernst Middendorp's first six months back at Chiefs will begin soon. The coach has bought himself credit by steering Amakhosi to the Nedbank Cup final, where it would be an upset if they lose to TS Galaxy.
In the league, it has been a mishmash. Of course Middendorp cannot be properly judged, arriving midway through a season to replace the muddled start of Giovanni Solinas.
But next season, with the pressure on to challenge - because Chiefs must surely challenge - such unconvincing runs as their now six-game winless streak in the league will be far harder to tolerate.
The first half meandered. Chiefs could not put together movement with sufficient pace to break down Stars. Ea Lla Koto lacked the urgency you would have expected from a team facing relegation.Towards the break Chiefs did lift their tempo. A move down the right was started by Dax - probably their most lively player - winning the ball deep in his half. It ended with Billiat shaking a marker, creating space and striking one along the lawn that was well stopped by Badra Ali Sangare.In the 45th minute Stars winger Hlubi struck a 28-metre free-kick that required a fine diving right-handed save from Bruce Bvuma.The Billiat-Leonardo Castro partnership lacked the spark it had shown at times this season. It was revived for a moment when Billiat's cross found Castro to stretch a leg and volley inches over soon after the restart.Stars had barely threatened. They were gifted an opener by Ramahlwe Mphahlele's casual defensive error. Kabelo Mahlasela's backpass from deep in Stars' half had the Chiefs' right-back reaching for the ball. Under pressure, his touch backwards into no-man's-land allowed Harris Tchilimbou to take the ball and beat Bvuma.Mphahlele recovered to win the ball back as Tchilimbou faced an open goal. Hlubi was on hand to sweep in the loose ball.Chiefs then really did up their velocity after going a goal down. Just past the hour Castro, played in by substitute Lebogang Manyama, was challenged by centreback Sifiso Mbhele in the area, with plenty of contact, justifying referee Sandile Dilikane to point to the spot. Cardoso calmly converted.Stars ended displaying a greater level of fight. Tchilimbou and Paulus Masehe headed just off target and Makhehlene Makhaula missed another in the 82nd minute...