The Absa Premiership tile race was blown wide open on Saturday evening after leaders Kaizer Chiefs suffered defeat to Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium.
Khama Billiat returned to the starting line-up alongside Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic, while Itumeleng Khune made way for Daniel Akpeyi between the sticks after starting in the Nedbank Cup last 32 clash last week.
It was all Chiefs in the early stages of the first half but the Maritzburg defence put in some key stops to deny the likes of Castro and Nurkovic in the 18-yard area.
Nurkovic nearly got the breakthrough on 25 minutes but the Serbian’s glancing header was turned by Richard Ofori while Daniel Cardoso headed over from the rebound.
It was quickly becoming the Chiefs versus Ofori battle as the Maritzburg shot-stopper showed good reflexes to keep out Nurkovic’s strike, which look destined for the bottom corner.
Maritzburg came into the encounter in high spirits after seeing off Bidvest Wits earlier this week but even with the inclusion of Judas Moseamedi, they failed to trouble Akpeyi and the Amakhosi backline.
It was more of open affair in the second half, but it was Maritzburg who broke the deadlock on 65 minutes as Tebogo Tlolane’s cross found Daniel Akpeyi, who volleyed into an unguarded net.
The stadium was stunned into silence moments later as the Team of Choice doubled their advantage through Claasen’s close-range header after some good work by Thabiso Kutumela.
Ernst Middendorp responded with a change for the final 20 minutes as veteran forward Bernard Parker was introduced for Reeve Frosler as Chiefs looked for a way back in.
Chiefs did reduced the deficit in the 76th minute as the ever-reliable Nurkovic bagged his 11th league goal of the season with a glancing header off Manyama’s corner.
Despite a late push from Chiefs, Maritzburg and Ofori were able to see out the closing stages to claim their first away win at Chiefs since 2012.
Here’s how they lined up:
Chiefs: 43. Akpeyi, 38. Frosler, 36. Ntiya-Ntiya, 4. Cardoso, 3. Mathoho, 31. Katsande, 11. Billiat, 12. Maluleka, 8. Castro, 21. Manyama, 9. Nurkovic.
Subs: 32. Khune, 25. Parker, 18. Moleko, 7. Kambole, 5. Akumu, 20. Sasman, 28. Zuma.
Maritzburg: 31. Ofori, 4. Allie, 40. Tlolane, 25. Xulu, 23. De Reuck, 15. Ntshangase, 14. Claasen, 8. Buchanan, 19. Moseamedi, 36. Kunene, 7. Kutumela.
Subs: 30. Mpandle, 3. Sanoka, 45. Mngonyama, 6, Timm, 12. Nyoni, 11. Jappie, 10. Brockie.
In other news – This cute video of Zozibini Tunzi bumping into her old Classmate will steal your heart – Watch
Many of us may avoid our old classmates like the plague if we see them in public, but Miss Universe was over the moon this week when she met some of her former school friends.
Source: Soccer Laduma