Cape Town - Rhulani Manzini had a great start to the season as his brace saw Chippa United claim a 2-1 win over Free State Stars at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday.
Chippa United set the pace of the game early on, dominating possession and getting a few crosses and shots in within the first few minutes.
It was this attacking intent that saw them take the lead in just the sixth minute, with Lerato Manzini finding Rhulani Manzini in a massive pocket of space inside the Stars box, and Johnny Mathole was unable to keep out his fierce first-time shot at goal.
Stars were level just 10 minutes later through Charles Kampi. The trouble started when a low corner came in and wasn't cleared, allowing it to flash across goal and bounce of the far post, before a failed half-clearance saw it fall into the path of Kampi to fire into the roof of the net.
Andile Mbenyane then missed a great chance for Chippa when he was fed the ball in acres of space down the left flank, just on the edge of the Stars penalty box. He looked to wrap his foot around it first time and go for the top corner, but he got it wrong and ballooned the ball into the stands.
There was controversy down the other end when Moeketsi Sekola was rushing in on goal before clattering into James Okwuosa and going down, but the referee didn't see enough of it to call a foul, and Chippa could breathe a sigh of relief.
Soon afterwards Chippa regained their lead with another striker from Rhulani Manzini, who slotted home after some good hustle from Thembinkosi Lorch set up his teammate for an opening day double.
The second half was far less remarkable than the first, with all the energy going into a midfield battle that produced very little goalmouth action at either end, as Chippa broke up the rhythm of the game by using all of their substitutions as the game plan shifted to maintaining their one-goal advantage.
Chippa were almost more at risk when attacking than defending, and Nhlanhla Vilakazi almost punished them on the counterattack, but his touch was poor and sent the ball wide of the post.
There was almost disaster for Chippa in the 85th minute when Stars stormed towards goal and a square ball caused confusion. Thato Thlone was almost able to steer it over the line with an improvised backheel, but it was hacked clear off the line by Mark van Heerden, a crucial clearance that was worth two extra points for the Chilli Boys.