Kaizer Chiefs (1) 2 (Billiat 36’, Nk Ngcobo 80’)
Maritzburg United (0) 0
Kaizer Chiefs produced a fantastic team performance to beat a resilient Maritzburg United 2-0 in their final DStv Premiership game of 2021.
Goals from Khama Billiat in the 36th minute and another sublime strike from substitute Nkosingiphile Ngcobo in the 80th minute sealed a league double over Maritzburg for Chiefs.
With Maritzburg chasing the game in the second half they went on the attack in the game’s second stanza, but clever defending and counterattacks from Chiefs saw them hold off the visitors comfortably.
Both teams took their time finding their feet in this game, with Maritzburg the first to carve out an opening in the 9th minute when Leletu Skelem fed the ball through to Amadou Soukouna, whose angled shot goal fizzed past Daniel Akpeyi but narrowly missed the target.
Maritzburg were able to keep things tight at the back and did not allow Amakhosi much sight of goal early on. Chiefs, though, did manage to unlock the visitor’s defence in the 33rd minute, with Keagan Dolly playing a neat pass to set up Billiat for the umpteenth time this season. Billiat managed to create some space for himself before driving the ball from the right towards goal. Maritzburg defender Reyard Ismael managed to get a slight touch on the ball resulting in a corner.
Two minutes later Billiat had another go at goal from distance, but missed the target. The signs were ominous that Chiefs were finding ways to get behind Maritzburg’s deep defending and Amakhosi turned the screws in the 36th minute as Dolly evaded the attentions of Ismail on the right laid the ball off to Njabulo Blom, who sped up the wing and cut the ball across goal to found Billiat who netted from close range.
Billiat knocked the ball home for his fifth league goal of the season to put Chiefs 1-0 up.
Four minutes before the break great vision and execution from Dolly saw him launch the ball across the field over the Maritzburg defense, accurately finding Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, who probably was not aware that he had more time than he envisaged.
The defender instinctively went for goal at the first time of asking, side footing the ball just over the crossbar and spurning a great opportunity for Chiefs to have scored a second.
It took a while, but Chiefs found the right plan to evade Maritzburg’s strong defensive structure and led 1-0 at the break.
Bongokhule Hlongwane was introduced by Maritzburg as a second half substitute and he had the opportunity to draw them level in the 47th minute. Daniel Cardoso’s back pass to Akpeyi was short and Hlongwane picked up the loose ball and with just Akpeyi to beat he tried to chip the Chiefs keeper, who had spread himself and was able to stop the ball.
Maritzburg had come out with more attacking intent in the second half, keeping Akpeyi busy as the Chiefs keeper had to turn away a Keegan Ritchie free kick from the right in the 50th minute.
Soon thereafter from another dangerous dead ball from the right by Ritchie the Chiefs defence were again left static and as the ball was swung in Ramahlwe Mphahlele flicked the ball backwards and fortuitously onto the bottom of Chiefs right hand upright and out to safety.
Just before the hour mark Njabulo Ngcobo was injured after a foul by Travis Graham. He was replaced by Cole Alexander after suffering a hamstring injury in the challenge.
With Maritzburg tearing up their defensive script and going on the offensive looking for an equalizer the game was a much more open affair. Chiefs in the 67th minute were able to launch a counterattack which saw Billiat trying to find Bernard Parker, the ball eluding him but rolling to Dolly, who came lurking in but was foiled by a timely interception from Daylon Claasen to avert the danger as he knocked the ball out for a corner.
On the 72nd minute Chiefs managed to break away again, with Dolly scorching down the left wing before coolly picking out Billiat with another pinpoint curling pass which sent him on his way to goal, but as he got his shot away he sent it past Marcel Engelhardt and wide of the target.
Chiefs were forced into another substitution in the 73rd minute with Nkosingiphile Ngcobo replacing Phathutshedzo Nange, who had fallen to the floor vomiting and indicating to the medical staff that he had chest pains.
Amakhosi made certain of the win with a second goal in the 80th minute of the game. Billiat fed the ball to substitute Ngcobo on the right side of the Maritzburg 18 yard area, who controlled the ball with his right before moving the ball to his left foot and pushing it forward before sending it with both power and precision past the outstretched Engelhardt, who tried in vain to stop the ball.
In the final minute of the game, Akpeyi made sure he kept a clean-sheet as he dived at full length to keep out a shot from distance struck with venom by Classen. Chiefs in turn in second half stoppage time missed a glorious chance to score a third goal with Happy Mashiane unable to get his effort on target from close range. In the end, it did not matter as Chiefs walked away 2-0 victors to end 2021 with a solid win.
Fact of the Match – Kaizer Chiefs completed a league double over Maritzburg United for the fourth time and the first time since the 2017-18 season. This was also Chiefs first home league win over Maritzburg since 8 March 2019, a 1-0 win on that occasion over two years ago.
Number of the Match 10 – This was the 16th time the sides were meeting in a league game hosted by Chiefs and it was Amakhosi’s 10th home win over Maritzburg in league games. Overall it was their 32nd league meeting, with Chiefs winning for the 15th time (D10 L7).
MVP – Chiefs had a number of standout performers in the game with Dolly, Billiat and Blom all showing great ability in both attack and defence. Cardoso did well to regain his composure and help the team ride out a wave of attacks, as Chiefs defense stood firm after facing a barrage of corners and set pieces from Maritzburg. Nkosingiphile Ngcobo added the finishing touches to an all round great team performance, with a wonderful goal, while Akpeyi did well with some late saves to keep Maritzburg out.
What next – Chiefs are now done for 2021 and will resume their league programme in the new year after the Africa Cup of Nations, with Chiefs next DStv Premiership game penciled in for the 15th February 2021 against Cape Town City away from home.
Kaizer Chiefs: 40. D. Akpeyi, 30. S. Ngezana, 4. D. Cardoso, 2. R. Mphahlele, 36. S. Ntiya-Ntiya (H. Mashiane 86’), 27. Nj Ngcobo ( C. Alexander 59’), 45. N. Blom, 24. P. Nange ( Nk. Ngcobo 73’), 10. K. Dolly, 25. B. Parker, 11. K Billiat ( K. Sekgota 86’)
Substitutes not used: 44. B. Bvuma, 3. E. Mathoho, 29. T. Dube, 8. L. Castro, 21. L. Manyama
Cautions: 30. S. Ngezana 75’
Coach: Arthur Zwane
Maritzburg: 31. M. Engelhardt, 42. R. Rae, 25. R. Ismail, 5. C. Daniels, 16. K. Ritchie, 15. P. Ntshangase (B. Theron 85’), 6. T. Graham, 17. D. Claasen, 8. Z. Kewuti ( B. Hlongwane 46’), 11. A. Soukouna, 22. L. Skelem
Substitutes Not Used: 1. B. Petersen, 32. R. Leaner, 27. A. Ndengane, 10. R. Human, 41. K. Cele, 24. L. Bhengu.
Sending Off: Gerhard VD Merwe (BIO) Allowed to continue his duties as he was the only medical personnel on the bench.
Coach: Ernst Middendorp