Johannesburg - Serb Samir Nurkovic returned from injury to score the goals that gave
leaders Kaizer Chiefs a 2-0 Absa Premiership triumph over
second-place Mamelodi Sundowns Sunday.
The 27-year-old forward who joined the Soweto side this year after
spells with eight Slovak clubs broke the deadlock after only seven
minutes and sealed success 12 minutes from time.
Winning before a sell-out 50 000 crowd in Pretoria stretched Chiefs'
league lead to five points after nine rounds, although defending
champions Sundowns do have one match in hand.
Nurkovic, who had been sidelined by a head injury, chested the ball
into the net from close range to put Chiefs ahead and later slammed a
loose ball past goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
"Today was my day and I am grateful," said the east European, whose
predatory instincts have kept another close-season signing, Zambian
forward Lazarous Kambole, out of the side.
"I have endured three very difficult weeks because of the head injury
and it is great to be back and doing my job, which is to score goals.
"However, I never want to be accused of selfishness. If a team-mate is
in a better position than me to score, I will pass the ball to him," he
"I dedicate this victory to the wonderful Chiefs supporters, who travelled to Pretoria in tens of thousands to cheer us on."
Spectators arrive late
The late arrival of many
spectators at Loftus Versfeld - a ground Sundowns share with Super
Rugby club Northern Bulls - meant the kick-off was put back 15 minutes.
Unlike most African countries, where supporters fill stadiums hours
before the kick-off, South African football fans are notorious for
arriving late and forcing matches to be delayed.
Chiefs' German coach Ernst Middendorp urged caution as the club hunt a
first trophy since winning the 2014/2015 Premiership under English
handler Stuart Baxter.
"We are getting used to winning league matches this season," he said,
referring to seven victories in nine outings since the championship
kicked off two months ago.
"But we have 21 more fixtures to play so it is crucial that all of us - players, coaches, technical staff, management and supporters - keep
our feet firmly on the ground."
Asked what had changed a team that finished a humiliating ninth last
season into league pacesetters, Middendorp said greater squad depth was a
"We have competition for places throughout the squad and that is
vital. It is one of the reasons why Sundowns have been so successful at
home and in Africa in recent years.
"Our first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, one of the best in
Africa if not the best in my opinion, is injured and Nigerian Daniel
Akpeyi is proving a great replacement."