Chiefs late show stuns Spurs
Polokwane - Kaizer Chiefs defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in the opening match of the 2011 Vodacom Challenge at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon.
The sell-out crowd had been treated to an evenly-matched, entertaining game, but it seemed destined to end goalless until the Soweto giants broke the deadlock in injury time, with youngster George Lebese scoring from a counter attack.
Spurs went with something of a mixed starting XI that featured several players who were not Premier League regulars last season, such as Carlo Cudicini, Sebastien Bassong, David Bentley and Robbie Keane.
Sadly, Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar didn’t get off the bench due to his niggling injuries, while want-away playmaker Luka Modric was conspicuous by his absence.
Chiefs’ line-up had a very familiar feel to it, with striker Lehlohonolo Majoro the only new signing to get the nod for the XI, while Jimmy Jambo occupied the left-back slot left vacant by Punch Masenamela’s transfer to Mamelodi Sundowns.
Majoro should have netted his first goal in a Chiefs jersey just past the half hour mark. The former AmaZulu attacker was presented with a virtually unguarded net after Cudicini had fumbled a Dominic Isaacs shot but he skewed his effort wide of the mark.
Five minutes later Majoro missed another glaring chance, heading over from point-blank range after strike partner Kaizer Motaung Jnr had swung in a peach of a cross from the left flank.
By this stage, the Amakhosi had really built up a head of steam and were bossing the game, but they were unable to force home the advantage in what remained of the first half, leaving the match goalless at the break.
The visitors emerged for the second half having made no less than seven changes, including the introductions of Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and tall strikers Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch.
Yet it was the Amakhosi who again created the first clear chance after the restart – once more Majoro was the man on the end of the move, getting away a shot from a tight angle that forced an awkward save from Cudicini at the near post.
Chiefs waited until past the hour mark to make their first substitutions (no less than six at once), and amongst them was striker Knowledge Musona, who has just returned from a trip to Germany and is expected to confirm a move to the Bundesliga before the end of the transfer window.
On 68 minutes Spurs almost broke the deadlock, with Crouch directing a header on target from Bale’s left-wing cross, but Itumeleng Khune produced a good save low to his left to keep the score line blank.
Six minutes later the English side introduced former SuperSport United defender Bongani Khumalo, who received a warm welcome from the Polokwane crowd. The centre-back is expected to be sent on loan during the 2011/12 season.
Chiefs looked the likelier scorers in the final minutes of the match, though they needed Khune to make an exceptional save to keep out a Bale volley in the first minute of injury time. From the subsequent corner kick, the Amakhosi broke upfield on the counter and Lebese netted the winner after beating Cudicini and Khumalo to Abia Nale’s through-ball.
Chiefs: Khune; Tau, Sweswe, Isaacs (Mashamaite 64’), Jambo; Dladla (Nale 64’), Letsholonyane (Yende 64’), Nengomasha, Tshabalala (Lebese 64’); Motaung Jnr (Mateba 64’), Majoro (Musona 64’)
Spurs: Cudicini; Hutton (Corluka 46’), Dawson (Kaboul 46’), Bassong (Khumalo 74’), Assou-Ekotto; Bentley (Lennon 46’), Jenas, Huddlestone (van der Vaart 46’), Kranjcar (Bale 46’); Keane (Pavlyuchenko 46’), Defoe (Crouch 46’)
Referee: Carvalho Helder de Martins (Angola)