Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs blew the chance to move to the top of the Absa Premiership table after they were held to a goalless draw away to Vasco da Gama at the Athlone Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The result is a blow to the Amakhosi’s title hopes, as leaders Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town now have the chance to move clear at the head of the table.
Chiefs dominated possession but rarely stretched the Vasco da Gama defence, and they will need to pick up their form in the remainder of the season if they are to get back in contention for the championship.
Both sides opted to play just the one out-and-out striker: Sibusiso Zuma for Vasco and Kaizer Motaung Jr for Chiefs.
The Amakhosi somewhat surprisingly opted to leave leading scorer Knowledge Musona on the bench, while Jimmy Tau (suspended) and Siphiwe Tshabalala (injured) were replaced by Tlou Molekwane and Abia Nale respectively.
Vasco, meanwhile, had to do without the services of Jonathan Armogam, who scored in their 3-2 win over Chiefs back in November last year.
Scoring opportunities were few and far between in the first half, with Chiefs in particular looking sluggish and uninspired after their exertions in the Soweto derby on the weekend.
Credit must also go to Vasco’s five-man midfield, who rotated positions and worked exceptionally hard regardless of whether their team was in possession or not.
The only genuine scoring chance of the first stanza arrived in the 41st minute, with Mandla Masango playing a clever chip to put Abia Nale through on goal, but the attacker’s low shot was smothered by Posnett Omony.
Sibusiso Zuma looked a dangerous prospect, with Chiefs centre backs Valery Nahayo and Thomas Sweswe often looking unsure whether to stick close to the wily striker, who showed all of his experience and athleticism with his superb movement off the ball.
The second half was much the same as the first: Chiefs dominated possession, but Vasco worked hard at the back and stood firm.
Coach Vladimir Vermezovic wasn’t afraid to make drastic changes, sending on three strikers in the shape of Knowledge Musona, Stanton Lewis and Sthembiso Ngcobo, but even the presence of an overwhelming number of attacking players was not enough for the Amakhosi.
They rarely tested Omony, though this was mainly down to some superb defending from Vasco centre-backs Mokete Tsotetsi and Francois Adams. The former was named Man of the Match, but the latter would have been just as deserving of the award.
The result leaves Chiefs in third place on 45 points, one off the pace of Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town, who now each have a game in hand which they will play on Wednesday. Vasco are in 11th on 26 points.
Vasco da Gama 0
Kaizer Chiefs 0
Vasco: (4-2-3-1) Omony; Isaacs, Adams, Tsotetsi, Jenniker; Karkee, Alexander; Santo (Fransman 62’), Lesch (Moloi 84’), Kamwendo (Hendricks 90+1’); Zuma
Chiefs: (4-2-3-1) Khune; Molekwane, Nahayo, Sweswe, Masenamela; Nengomasha, Letsholonyane; Masango (Lewis 61’), Yende, Nale (Musona 61’); Motaung Jr (Ngcobo 72’)
Referee: Victor Gomes
Cautions: Lesch, Karkee, Tsotetsi; Motaung Jr, Nengomasha