Kaizer Chiefs (0) 1 (Letsholonyane 67’)
Moroka Swallows (1) 1 (Baloyi 28’)
Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows drew 1-1, despite a spirited performance of the Amakhosi, especially in the second half. Reneilwe Letsholonyane scored for Chiefs, while Lucky Baloyi had opened the score for the Birds. The match was played at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Kingston Nkhatha came back in the team after suffering with stomach problems last weekend, while George Maluleka had to miss the Swallows encounter due to injury. Meanwhile, Bernard Parker, who sustained an injury at training the day before last Sunday’s Ajax Cape Town clash, hadn’t recovered as yet.
The Amakhosi dominated the opening stage of the game, creating a few chances. On the other hand, the Birds, with Chiefs legend Fani Madida as the caretaker coach, were eager to improve on their recent lacklustre performances.
Siphiwe Tshabalala played up-front behind striker Nkhatha with Mandla Masango (right) and George Lebese (left) occupying the wings. However, it was Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyane who had the crowd jumping up from enthusiasm when he shot at goal in the 22nd minute. But the ball flew over the crossbar.
Then, against the run of play – and to the shock of the home crowd - it was Swallows that scored in the 28th minute with a long distance shot from former Amakhosi player Baloyi, leaving goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo no chance. It nearly became worse when Vuyisile Wana got an opportunity, but he shot wide. The game became open, as now Letsholonyane looked to score from close range, but, in the end, the ball disappeared past the wrong side of the post.
The Amakhosi tried to push for the equaliser, but didn’t succeed, which meant that the teams went into the half-time break with a 1-0 advantage for the Birds.
Chiefs came full of determination out of the dressing room, putting early pressure on the Swallows defence and creating opportunities to score. However, the Birds defence was well organised. But in the 67th minute it was Letsholonyane – he again – who scored the equaliser, his fifth Absa Premiership goal of the season.
Shortly thereafter Siphiwe Tshabalala looked to be brought down in the box. The referee, however, decided differently, giving, instead, the Chiefs midfielder a yellow card for diving. To be fair, it looked as if the referee had it right.
Then, another chance arrived when Tshabalala was one-on-one with Swallows goalkeeper Greg Etafia, but the ball went wide from short range.
Coach Stuart Baxter, meanwhile, tried to up the pressure on the Birds defence by bringing in Matthew Rusike for George Lebese. It nearly resulted in a goal shortly thereafter, but substitute Siphelele Mthembu couldn’t get the ball between the posts.
In the end, the Amakhosi couldn’t get the goal, which means that, for the first time this season, the league leaders have dropped two points. Chiefs are now on 25 points after nine matches played.
Chiefs: Khuzwayo, Gaxa, Mashamaite, Mathoho, Masilela, Masango, Letsholonyane, Katsande, Lebese (Rusike 82’), Tshabalala, Nkhatha (Mthembu 69’)
Moroka Swallows: Etafia, Mungomeni, Cohen, Isaacs, Mahoa, Baloyi, Sibande (Mandic 68’), Phalane, Chabangu (Esterhuizen 65’), Wana, Obada (Mabalane 36’)