CHIPPA United started their second stint in the Premier Soccer League with an outstanding 2-0 defeat of Platinum Stars at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night.
Chippa could not have wished for a better start to their campaign after being promoted to the Premiership. It will give the hastily assembled squad massive amounts of confidence for the remainder of the competition.
For Platinum Stars, the result must have come as a shock. Fresh from seeing off PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 quarterfinals the previous weekend, defeat was the last thing the visitors would have expected.
United coach Mboneni Sikhakhane said the game was tough but he was happy that the players were up for the challenge, although adding: “We could have scored more goals – we missed so many chances. Still, I am happy the players combined well and were eager to win this match.”
He said it was still early but their aim was to win their home games and set their sights on a top-eight finish.
The game was attended by about 4800 fans. Although the crowd was sparse, there was enough excitement around to suggest the people were enjoying the fact that top-flight football has made its way back to the Bay.
The support shown by the home spectators will make the Chilli Boys even more determined to stay in the PSL this season and erase memories of their relegation to the National First Division in 2012-13.
Chippa’s heroes on the night were captain Andile Mbenyane and David Zulu who accounted for the goals in the first half.
United got off to an absolute flyer as, with under eight minutes on the stadium clock, Mbenyane exchanged passes with William Twala before sliding a low shot past Stars goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane.
And in the 30th minute, United went 2-0 up through a brilliant goal from new signing Zulu, who flicked a pass from Siyabulela Shai into the air before firing an unstoppable volley into the back of the net.
United came close to extending their lead to three in the 39th minute when Mbenyane’s long shot went inches wide of Stars’ goal.
Once again, United strikers sliced open Stars’ defence before the break but Joseph Molangaone’s ball missed the mark.
Stars created little more than half-chances in attack in the first half, testing Tshepo Motsoeneng with only three relatively tame efforts on target.
Stars made an attacking change early in the second half in search of a goal but United’s defence was focused, giving the visitors few chances to shoot.
United were well organised in midfield and that played a large part in the home team collecting maximum points from their opener.
Chippa and Stars have met in just two previous league matches. In the 2012-13 season, the Eastern Cape side defeated Dikwela 2-1 at home in the teams’ first PSL meeting.
Later in the same season, the sides played to a 1-1 draw in the return match in Rustenburg.
Chippa’s next match has them away to SuperSport United tomorrow evening. – Mthetho Ndoni