Chiefs through in Telkom Knockout

The defending champions left it quite late, with Sthembiso Ngcobo scoring against his former club 15 minutes from time, and Knowledge Musona doubling the lead in the 82nd minute.

Stars made a good start to the match, winning a couple of corner kicks and generally forcing the home team onto the back foot in the early minutes. Chiefs, though, soon got their passing game going and their movement and fluid interchanging of positions looked very promising.

The first shot in anger arrived in the 15th minute, with free-kick specialist Siphiwe Tshabalala – returning to Chiefs’ starting line-up for the first time since their MTN8 Cup sem-ifinal second leg against Orlando Pirates in late September – whipping a shot from a dead-ball situation over the crossbar.

Stars replied immediately with a well-crafted attack that saw them have a strong penalty appeal turned down by referee Victor Hlungwani. Valery Nahayo appeared to pull back Ea Lla Koto striker Aleni Lebyane inside the 18-yard area but the referee was uninterested in the visiting side’s appeals.

On 23 minutes Jimmy Tau played Abia Nale in behind the Stars defence with a perfectly weighted pass and the attacker attempted to stab home a left-footed effort from a tight angle, but goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene made a good block to deny the hosts.

The remainder of the first half saw the sides wrestling for control of the game but there was no further goalmouth action of any note, leaving the encounter locked at 0-0 heading into the half-time break.

The opening minutes of the second half saw an immediate improvement in attacking play, with Stars twice coming close to breaking the deadlock. Matome Madimabe produced a good finger-tip save from Arthur Bartman with a long range drive, and from the resulting corner kick a looping header at the back post struck the top of the crossbar.

Ea Lla Koto continued to pressure Chiefs and on 52 minutes Bartman was again called into significant action, punching away a wicked free-kick from Noah Chivuta that needed just the slightest deflection to find the back of the net.

Four minutes later it was Chiefs’ turn to threaten a goal, with Musona seeing his goal-bound lob over Mweene headed away from the danger zone by Danny Mbo. Reneilwe Letsholonyane then fired a long range shot just wide of the target.

Just before the hour mark Bartman made a superb reaction save to keep his side on level terms, blocking a fearsome first-time volley from Paulus Masehe after another good set-piece delivery from Chivuta.

The match seemed destined for extra time until the 76th minute when a lack of concentration at the back cost Stars dear. They allowed Mandla Masango to run free down the right and pick out a cross to Ngcobo at the far post – the former Ea Lla Koto player easily tucked home the ball for his first official goal for Kaizer Chiefs.

Four minutes later the Amakhosi should have doubled their advantage after Tshabalala had set Musona free, but the young Zimbabwean saw his fierce drive crash into the upright and rebound away to safety.

Yet Musona’s frustration was short lived, as he duly made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute with a glancing header from Tshabalala’s free-kick on the right flank.