Manning Rangers had the blues while Kaizer Chiefs happily matched to a third position on the log with a 3-2 win against the Durban side at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.
The home side enjoyed a degree of comfort, inspired by Mozambican Jossias Macamo, who was later replaced by Lucky Maselesele, and industrious midfielder Thabo Mooki, and went into the break with a healthy lead.
Amakhosi led through Macamo after 29 minutes firing through Orwin Castel’s legs with the supply coming from Nhlanhla Kubeka. Macamo was later involved in a move which saw Chiefs went further ahead in the 32nd minute as he laid the ball to Permall who crossed to Niemach for the second goal.
Shaun Permall was also on the scoring board as he compounded Rangers’ blues deep into injury time when he beat an offside trap and unleashed a deceiving shot, which caught Castel off-guard much to the delight of the 15 000 Amakhosi supporters.
Rangers went into the break with a huge 3-0 deficit and looked dead and buried but a second half revival almost saw them walk away from Ellis Park with a point.
Clinton Larsen punished the Chiefs defence as they failed to clear their lines in the 78th minute. A minute later skipper Sipho Nduzo tested the offside rule to the limit as he collected a ball from Gilbert Mushangazhike before unleashing the ball past Rowen Fernandez.
The Maulers almost soured Doctor Khumalo’s arrival on the field with the two quick goals. Amakhosi rounded off their substitutions with Khumalo in the 77th minute in place of Shaun Permall.
It was however, a happy return to Ellis Park for Amakhosi, who spent over a month on the road. Their last commitment at this venue ended in a 2-2 draw against Black Leopards.
Amakhosi, who came out for a field inspection and light warm-up an hour before kick-off, were on song despite missing a number of their regular players. Fernandez manned the goals in place of Brian Baloyi while players like Arthur Zwane, Jabu Pule and Patrick Mbuthu were all rested.
For their part, Rangers came out 30 minutes before kick-off and once the match got underway, they appeared to be sailing in troubled waters. Goalkeeper Orwin Castel had a nightmare as he let in three goals in the first half.
The Rangers’ arsenal was firing blacks in the first half and their troubles were almost compounded when their keeper Orwin Castel suffered a blow while going for the ball against Permall.
Coach Clive Barker made radical changes at the beginning of the second half as he ejected Castel and brought on Ryan Wuest in his place while Pogiso Mokotjo came on for Mimi Radebe.
Striker Ishmael Maluleke was also ejected as he seemed to have forgotten his scoring boots in Durban. Pogiso Mokotjo took his place and immediately got into the thick of things and got a yellow card few minutes after taking the field.
The home side defended with their backs against the wall in the dying
minutes of the game as Rangers frantically searched for the equaliser but Amakhosi held on for dear life until the final minute.
The Amakhosi supporters who came early were also rewarded. First an
entertaining duel between the Chiefs reserves against their Moroka Swallows, but the home side went down 1-0.
The Yfm disc jockeys kept the crowd entertained while they received
freebies from the club sponsors.
Chiefs will now focus on their African Cup Winners Cup final against Inter Luanda next weekend but Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral sure to have some harsh words with his players as they almost blew their chances.
Kaizer Chiefs: 3-5-2 – 1-Rowen Fernandez, 5-Patrick Mabedi, 29-Gary Goldstone, 6-Nhlanhla Kubeka, 25-Marco Mthembu, 12-Thabo Mooki, 27-Gerald Sibeko, 23-Jossias Macamo, 24-Isaac Mabotsa, 20-Kenny Niemach, 19-Shaun Permall.
Subs: Doctor Khumalo, Lucky Maselesele, Phumlani Mkhize, Thabiso Malatsi, Rodney Thobejane, Simphiwe Mbambo.
Manning Rangers: 3-5-2 – 1-Orwin Castel, 6-Liswa Nduti, 12-Sipho Ndzuzo, 4-Bradley Muir, 10-Clinton Larsen, 17-Japhet Zwane, 23-Ishmael Maluleke, 11-Gilbert Mushangazhike, 16-Mongezi Radebe, 19-Nkipitheni Matombo, 3-Helder Muinga.
Subs: 33-Ryan Wuest, 5-Robert Milne, 20-Michael Shata, 24-Stoffel Nikane, 21-Pogiso Mokotjo, 2-Mark Davies.
Referee: Sipho Masondo.