Kaizer Chiefs needed to dig deep as they held on for a point at an empty Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. Amakhosi will be disappointed as they played out to a goalless draw against the Chilli Boys. Amakhosi looked to make it two league wins on the trot on Saturday afternoon as they came up against a tricky Chippa United, who were desperate for a win.
Once again, it seemed as though coach Giovanni Solinas had found the winning formula as he was in high spirits following after booking a Telkom Knockout semi-final berth and registered a win over Black Leopards in midweek. however, it was no easy feat for Chiefs to overcome Chippa as for the second time, the Italian-born mentor would need to motivate his troops as they played behind closed doors.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs technical team looked for consistency and experience as Leonardo Castro and club’s top scorer Khama Billiat led the line. Billiat though, enjoyed a very quiet evening, although Chiefs were allowed to play a high line as Chippa coach Eric Tinkler set out his team to sit back and play on the counter attack
Meanwhile, with the likes of Lerato Manzini and Kurt Lentjies in the attack, Chippa hoped to use the long ball to their advantage and they came close early on as Itumeleng Khune needed to be alert as he made a good block to deny a certain opener from Thabo Rakhale. While Chiefs enjoyed the bulk of the possession, it was Chippa with the better of the opportunities.
With the half-hour mark approaching, Manzini should have done better as he found himself on the end of a superb move and only had the keeper to beat. But his tame effort was scooped up comfortably by Khune.
With no fans in attendance, the Chiefs players seemed to struggle especially at the back, and this allowed Chippa to have the better of the chances.
The Chilli Boys had lost their last three games in all competitions, but they looked undeterred by their disappointing fortunes.
With the half-time whistle, looming Chiefs looked to build on their 40% conversion ratio between minutes 30 and 45 as George Maluleka tested Daniel Akpeyi with a stunning long-range drive, but the Nigerian was up to the task as he tipped the ball over the bar.
Chiefs had one final chance to find an opener before the break after some good work between Castro and Billiat, but yet again they were unable to convert as they headed into the break goalless.
The second half saw not only Solinas make his first move as he took off Mario Booysen for Daniel Cardoso but Tinkler too made a change removing top assists contributor Tercious Malepe for Miguel Timm.
Chiefs immediately went on the attack and looked a lot more positive going forward than they were in the first. But again, Chiefs were lucky not to have fallen behind.
Some great work by Ruzaigh Gamildien played Rakhale through on goal, only for a last-ditch tackle by a Chiefs defender to avert the danger.
Chippa were putting real pressure on the Chiefs goals and had it not been for Siyabonga Ngezana on the goal line, Chiefs should have been behind as the defender made a massive block to deny the away side.
The Port-Elizabeth-based outfit came more into the game as the game grew older, and Khune was called into action just before the hour mark as he made a smart save to push Manzini’s shot away from goal.
That would be Manzini’s last chance to impress Tinkler as he was eventually withdrawn for his namesake Rhulani Manzini. The change seemed to take a little of the sting out of the Chippa attack which gave Chiefs some much-needed respite.
That was until Boikanyo Komane tested Khune with a thunderous shot from well outside the box, but the Chiefs No.1 stood between Chippa and their first three points on the road this season.