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Unconvincing Kaizer Chiefs’ second place ambitions pricked by Arrows

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of Kaizer Chiefs and Thabani Zuke, captain of Lamontville Golden Arrows, during the DStv Premiership match at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on April 27 2022.
Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of Kaizer Chiefs and Thabani Zuke, captain of Lamontville Golden Arrows, during the DStv Premiership match at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on April 27 2022.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs and their new caretaker coaching duo have their work cut out achieving their target of second place in the DStv Premiership as Amakhosi were downed 2-1 by a competitive Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban on Wednesday.

Chiefs showed glimpses of the creative football caretakers Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard want to instil in life post-Stuart Baxter as they edged the first half at Princess Magogo Stadium. Amakhosi took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Khama Billiat’s 18th-minute strike.

But the Soweto giants' effort notably waned in the second half as Arrows’ grew in intensity. The KwaZulu-Natal club fought back through goals by substitutes Siboniso Conco in the 60th and Michael Boy Gumede in the 87th.

Chiefs, who remained in fourth place, were unable to capitalise on a lead and there were question marks on their second-half defensive organisation, with centreback Njabulo Ngcobo notably low on confidence in his display.

Arrows are also under the stewardship of interim coaches since the firing of Lehlohonolo Seema. Vusumuzi Vilakazi and Mabuthi Khenyeza would have taken some satisfaction from a win that saw their side make strides towards a top eight finish, as they pushed up to ninth.

The match was rescheduled, via an arbitration process, from a fixture in December that Chiefs did not honour due to an outbreak of Covid-19 at Naturena. The game is still the subject of a high court review brought by the Premier Soccer League against the arbitration decision.

Zwane had said after his and Sheppard's caretaker tenure started with a 1-0 defeat away to Stellenbosch FC on Saturday that Chiefs fear losing the ball, and need to be braver in expression and creativity.

In the opening half there were glimpses of such ambitions, with just greater penetration to provide more of an end product lacking.

Chiefs took an early lead through a fine movement out of their box. Leonardo Castro was found in space on the right to cut in and dink a delightful small pass between two defenders for the run of Billiat, who smacked a finish past goalkeeper Sifiso Mlungwana.

A drive well high and wide by Knox Mutizwa was Arrows' lone chance of the half, but they looked capable of conjuring something when in possession.

Game management with a lead is a crucial aspect of modern football. Arrows were always going to come out from the break pushing for an equaliser. Given that threat, Chiefs sat back too much and were unconvincing absorbing the Durban side's pressure.

Arrows scored a deserved equaliser when Ngcobo gave the ball away outside his box on the right to gift substitute Siboniso Conco a clear run on goal and low finish past Brandon Petersen.

A stray pass by Ngcobo allowed Arrows to tease their way through for a second chance moments later, Knox Mutizwa teeing up winger Saziso Magawana to curl an effort past the left upright.

Chiefs' coaches relieved Ngcobo of his tough afternoon replacing the defender with striker Samir Nurković in the 74th, and tweaking their formation.

With the clock winding down Arrows earned a free-kick to the right of the box, which was whipped in by Nduduzo Sibiya, Gumede sneaking in to head a finish at the near post.  

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