Birds down Chiefs
Posted: 7 February 2009 Time: 22:37
Moroka Swallows threw themselves into the title race mix when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday night.
Sandile 'AK 47' Ndlovu scored a brace for Swallows while Kaizer Motaung Junior pulled a goal back for Chiefs in the 89th minute.
The result sends Swallows up into sixth position, just two points adrift of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, and a further six points behind log leaders SuperSport United.
There is still a long way to go in the title race, but Swallows showed that in defence they are a disciplined outfit, with the necessary fire-power to do the business up front.
It would be unfair to say that the Amakhosi were outplayed, but a goal inside the first four minutes of each half by Sandile 'AK 47' Ndlovu meant that Swallows were always comfortably in command in front of a near-capacity crowd for what was an entertaining Soweto Derby.
The Birds were off to a dream start, scoring inside the third minute when Ndlovu arched his body while rising above the Chiefs defence to header Lefa Tsutsulupa's free kick beyond Emile Baron and into the back of the net.
Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral's side-line antics were indicative of his side's showing in the first half – the Amakhosi mentor regularly came off the bench as his frustration grew with what was at times a lack lustre performance from the team in gold and black.
Kaizer Motaung Junior appeared to be Chiefs' best bet for a goal and in the 15th minute he turned sharply in the box before marginally pulling his shot wide of the far upright.
It was however Chiefs keeper Baron who had the more testing saves to make – prime examples being in the 17th and 19th minutes, when he stood firm to beat away powerfully struck shots by Tsutsulupa and Ndlovu respectively.
In the 37th minute former Chiefs striker David Radebe showed his class when he neatly took down Tsutsulupa's 35-yard pass, before cleverly placing the ball past an on-rushing Baron.
It was nearly the perfect execution, but Radebe had not however taken into account Chiefs' rookie defender Wayne Matle, who did brilliantly to get back and clear the ball off the line.
While Swallows could claim to have shaded proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, Motaung left them with something to think about when he came close to nipping in to get on the end of Josta Dladla's cross to the near post shortly before the break.
Ertugral laid his cards out on the table with the onset of the second half – bringing on striker Tshepo Bulu for centre back Mokete Tsotestsi was a clear indication that Chiefs were going to go full out in search of an equaliser.
But with bigger gaps in defence, there was however always the risk that Swallows could hit them on the counter, and this is exactly what happened in the 49th minute when Ndlovu netted his second goal.
Like his first, it was a text-book striker's finish as he volleyed home clinically from eight yards out at the back post after an inch-perfect Mark Haskins cross from the left.
Ten minutes later Ndlovu could well have had his hat-trick, but failed to find the target with a header from Radebe's cross.
While Chiefs huffed and puffed trying to make something happen in their opponent's half, it was at the other end of the field that the game's third goal nearly arrived when Ndlovu flashed a header wide of Baron's left hand upright.
To their credit, Amakhosi continued to work hard to try and pull a goal back, but things would just not fall for them inside the box as on a couple of Motaung was just inches away from being in the position to steer crosses into the back of the net.
Motaung was finally rewarded for his persistence when he headed home Siphiwe Tshabalala's corner kick, but with only injury time left on the clock, it proved to be a classic case of too little too late, despite a couple of nail-biting moments for Swallows coach Julio Leal in the dying seconds of the game.