They came to the Botshebelo Stadium on the outskirts of Bloemfontein proclaiming the start of a new golden era for Kaizer Chiefs and oozing confidence for the Nedbank Cup second-round game against lower division FC Cape Town.
Instead the glamour club of South African soccer were humbled while going down 2-0 to a gritty, no-nonsense first-division combination who performed as though their lives depended on it and were not over-awed by the reputation and aura of their opponents.
Uncannily, it was for Chiefs a crushing repeat of the setback against lower division University of Pretoria in the Nedbank Cup last year and one that will rank among the most stunning shocks in the PSL’s history.
And the writing was already on the wall as early as the 19th minute when 18-year-old Lyle Lakay opened the scoring with a shot from the edge of the penalty area that demonstrated the kind of composure rarely seen in South African soccer following a weaving dribble that was equally impressive.
Then with Chiefs pressing ominously for an equaliser in the second half, the Cape Town combination stunned the Chiefs’ supporters in the 13 000 crowd with a second goal from a clinical header by Samuel Bille, the club’s composed Cameroonian-born captain.
Intriguingly, the usual domination in support and motivation which Chiefs receive from having the majority of fans was hardly noticeable on this occasion, with a battalion of Bloemfontein Celtic supporters shouting their lungs out in vocal support for the underdogs.
On a muggy, partly cloudy afternoon, Chiefs threw everything into desperate attack in the final 24 minutes, but they missed several gilt-edged opportunities and came up against a resolute, iron-curtain defence that gave and asked for no quarter, Heroes abounded in the Cape Town ranks, with lanky defender Francois Adama a tower of strength in the rearguard and inspired goalkeeper Moses performing as though he believed he was ordained not to concede a goal.
Panic and nerves also crept into the Chiefs’ camp that had before the game suggested victory might be achieved by as many as half-a-dozen goals, with supporters in the stands screaming for changes in the latter stages although the team had already made their mandatory three substitutions.
The fresh striking pairing of Kaizer Motaung Jnr and Nkosinathi Nhleko failed for Chiefs and were substituted in the second period, but the penetration in a line-up that might have been a little
complacent while under-estimating their opponents, never came to the fore.
Jose Torrealba and Abia Nale were foiled by the indestructible Moses when they were poised to score from close-range and ultimately the team from the Mother City brought off the mother of all surprises. – Sapa