JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs moved to within five points of the table-topping Orlando Pirates with seven matches remaining when they beat Maritzburg United at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Dumisani Zuma’s strike in the 50th minute was enough to secure all three points for Amakhosi and left the relegation-threatened Team of Choice in deeper trouble as the end of the season approaches.
While Chiefs are mathematically still in with a shot of claiming the title, there was a debate in the media this week when teammates Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Bernard Parker came out with conflicting opinions.
According to Mphahlele, the Soweto giants were not in with a realistic chance of winning the, while Parker later disagreed with him. Their performance, though, supported the former’s views as they struggled to break down a team rooted to the foot of the table.
At the FNB Stadium, it was the Team of Choice who took control of the match early on as they look to avoid the drop.
Maritzburg constantly put pressure on Bruce Bvuma, who was given a rare start by Ernst Middendorp. But it was Maritzburg defender Nazeer Allie who denied Khama Billiat and Zuma.
But Allie, nor goalkeeper Richard Ofori could stop Zuma when the former Bloemfontein Celtic man scored the winner on 50 minutes. The Chiefs’ forward received a well threaded through pass from Leonardo Castro, which he curled past the keeper.
Their lead allowed Nkosingiphile Ngcobo to play with more confidence on his debut, having come on before the start of the second half for the injured Billiat.
Chiefs’ fans appreciated the skilful touches of the 19-year-old, who was named in the Team of the Tournament in the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations where Amajita qualified for the Under-20 World Cup. The youngster was comfortable on the ball and showed why he has been tipped for a bright future.
The loss sees Maritzburg rooted to the foot of the table with three wins from their 23 matches.