Amakhosi suffered their first league defeat at the hands of Matsatsantsa, going down 2-0 in front of an empty FNB Stadium in Johannesburg
Aubrey Modiba opened the scoring for the visitors, before Bradley Grobler put the game beyond Amakhosi’s reach with a fine strike on the stroke of half-time.
Gustavo Paez pulled one back for Chiefs in the 66th minute, and although the goal spurred the home side on, Matsatsantsa held on to register a second successive win over their Soweto opponents in less than three weeks.
As expected, Steve Komphela, who is under immense pressure to turn things around at Chiefs, included none of his new signings in the starting line-up, but George Maluleka made a welcome return from injury.
Perhaps, this would signal a lack of quality players at his disposal for sticking with the tried and tested, but even with that in mind, he still needs to work with what he’s got to at least save his job.
On the other hand, Eric Tinkler left Jeremy Brockie on the bench, maybe because he knew that Komphela was going to plan around the New Zealand international – another tactical move which somewhat affected Amakhosi’s game plan.
Despite their promising start to the encounter, things went pear shaped when Eric Mathoho was shown a straight red for a foul on Grobler on the edge of the box after six minutes.
The red card knocked their confidence and SuperSport pushed more numbers forward as soon as Mathoho went off, giving Lorenzo Gordinho a torrid time.
It wasn’t long before Modiba opened the scoring with a good header. The left-footed player positioned himself well inside the box, before slotting the ball past Brilliant Khuzwayo to make it 1-0 to SuperSport United.
The truth is that Chiefs never recovered from those back-to-back set-backs, and despite attempting to get back into the game, the visitors were always ahead of them in all departments.
Things became worse when Tsepo Masilela collided with Khuzwayo inside the Amakhosi box. The veteran defender attempted to clear the ball, but Khuzwayo had the situation under control until the ball slipped through his fingers, leaving Masiulela injured on the ground. Hendrick Ekstein was well-positioned to clear the ball off the line and keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Komphela attempted to rescue the situation by replacing Gordinho with Daniel Cardoso, but the tactical layout wasn’t on point as United still managed to get behind his back four.
SuperSport United’s dominance paid off on the stroke of half-time when Teboho Mokoena played Grobler through on goal. The striker made no mistake from the 18-yard box after Cardoso was found wanting at the back.
Chiefs had a better second half, but that was because United stopped playing, and even then, the home side still didn’t do enough to hurt their opponents.
Paez gave restored some belief with a 66th-minute strike after being left unmarked inside the small box. After that goal, Chiefs began to play their usual free-flowing football, stretching Tinkler’s charges, but credit must go to Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels for weathering the storm in the final minutes of the game.
What was evident from the small Amakhosi fans out in the stands is that Chiefs lack quality players, but as soon as the final whistle went off, they changed the tune and called for Komphela’s resignation; the call that the 50-year-old has become familiar with over the past two years.
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But if there’s anything Komphela did wrong on the night, was his rushed decision in substituting Gordinho when he should have at least kept things tight until the half-time break before regrouping at the start of the second half.