Kaizer Chiefs moved into the top half of the Absa Premiership table after walloping Moroka Swallows 3-1 in a league match at a packed Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on Sunday.
Mabhuti Khenyeza, Jonathan Quartey and Thuso Phala scored for Chiefs, while Swallows’ lone goal came from the boot of James Chamanga.
It was a Chiefs’ away game, but the crowd clearly favoured the ”visitors” and the mighty Amakhosi, backed by their vociferous 12th man, dominated proceedings on the field. Chiefs’ midfielders David Mathebula, Gerald Sibeko and Siphiwe Tshabalala had the Swallows attacking players on the back foot and created a good few chances for the men up front.
However, strikers Kaizer Motaung Jnr and Mabhuti Khanyeza strayed offside as Goodman Mazibuko controlled his backline competently. The skipper let little go by him as he flew in to tackles, further frustrating the misfiring Chiefs.
There was nothing Mazibuko could do though when Khenyeza’s header bounced off the crossbar and over the goalline, and despite a desperate clearance, the referee’s assistant on the near side spotted the ball going over the line and the goal was awarded.
Swallows coach Ian Gorowa protested with the touchline assistant and was restrained by a colleague soon after. His players seemed to adapt his hostile approach and went in hard on the Chiefs players.
Left-back James Mayinga was lucky not to be sent off after a cynical challenge on Sibeko and only got a yellow card. The Birds’ playmakers, Mark Haskins and Lefa Tsutsulupa, increased the tempo in midfield and finally it looked like Swallows were playing at home.
The Birds burly hit man, Sandile Ndlovu, unlocked the resolute Chiefs defence when he shielded the ball and then found Chamanga in the small box, who poked home. The small band of Birds supporters celebrated loudly in the muted stadium.
Khenyeza tested Swallows keeper Greg Etafia early on in the second half, but the Nigerian was quick off his line to deny the former Golden Arrows player.
At the other end Etafia’s counterpart, Itumeleng Khune, was — again — in fine form.
The South Africa international denied Chamanga in a one-on-one situation and also stopped a goal-bound Tsutsulupa effort. The Birds pressed on with Cecil Oerson and Japhet Zwane on the flanks but poor decisions — and passes — stopped them from scoring.
Mazibuko fouled Tshabalala on the edge of the area and referee Buyile Gqubule decided it was a penalty. Swallows players protested vehemently, but the ref would hear nothing.
Jonathan Quartey coolly beat Etafia from the spot and the tide turned as Chiefs went looking for another. Khenyeza was fiery upfront and pulled two shots wide; at the other end, Oerson shot straight at Khune.
With less than 15 minutes remaining Mayinga got a second yellow and the Birds had to play with 10 men. Chiefs then started camping in the Birds’ half. A harmless looking throw-in was missed by Bevan Fransman and Phala pounced on the loose ball, stabbing it past a helpless Etafia.
Chiefs and Swallows are tied on 33 points, but due to a better goal difference, the Amakhosi are in eighth place and the Birds ninth. — Sapa