Chiefs crash out of MTN8 despite Khama Billiat’s stunner. The Zimbabwean forward has slowly been working his way back to the levels, which many expect from him, after suffering a series of injuries, which affected both his form and confidence. Khama Billiat scored a beauty, confirming he is slowly returning to his best, but Kaizer Chiefs crashed out of the MTN8 after a penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday.
He was thrown into the fray by coach Stuart Baxter yesterday, for a date against his old club Sundowns, in Pretoria. And, after 23 minutes, they were in real trouble. They found themselves two goals down, after Peter Shalulie headed Sundowns into the lead, just 10 minutes into the match. Then, the hosts double their lead, in style, with Themba Zwane scoring a good goal.
But, veteran forward, Bernard Parker, handed the Amakhosi a lifeline, when he headed home just before the break, to give Chiefs something to fight for, in the second half. Baxter then threw in his new signing, Keagan Dolly, reuniting the South African with his Zimbabwean counterpart, in an attack which used to fire the Brazilians’ dreams.
Their chemistry told, when Dolly, back home after a stint in France, threaded a pass into the path of Billiat on the right channel of the attack. The Warriors star’s finish was a product of beauty, lifting the ball with his right foot, into the far corner, giving Zambian veteran goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene, no chance.
This was vintage Billiat, the type of special goals which turned him into a poster boy of the South African Premiership, during his time at the Brazilians. It was a mixture of both joy, and relief, for the Zimbabwean, who celebrated wildly, as he showed the Chiefs fans he could play a big part for them, this season.
He thought he had created the winner, for the Amakhosi, towards the end, when his trickery created space for him down the left channel and the ball, which he sent across the Sundowns goal, should have been finished.
Billiat was later substituted, seven minutes into extra-time. Zambian international ‘keeper Mweene, then took over as the hero as Sundowns progressed into the last four of the MTN8 with a penalty shoot-out victory, over Chiefs. Kgaogelo Sekgota, Cole Alexander, Phathutshedzo Nange and Sifiso Hlanti made their debuts for Chiefs, while Mothobi Mvala and Haashim Domingo formed were drafted into the Sundowns midfield.
Downs took the lead after only 10 minutes gone. Lyle Lakay whipped in a dangerous delivery from the left, in between Daniel Cardoso and Hlanti, for an unmarked Shalulile to head the ball powerfully into the back of the net.
Soon afterwards, Lakay was offered space on the left-hand side for Shalulile to again be allowed a free header but, this time, the Namibian striker headed wide, off Itumeleng Khune’s left-hand post.
The Brazilians doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Mothobi Mvala threaded the ball through for Zwane, who took one touch before firing the ball clinically into the bottom right-hand corner, off the post.
Soon after, Mvala thundered a long-range effort towards the roof of Khune’s net and the Amakhosi captain had to take decisive action and tip the ball over his bar. Lakay then hit the bar himself with a powerful first-time long-range drive after Mvala had laid the ball off to him.
Chiefs pulled a goal back in the 38th minute when Njabulo Blom delivered the ball from the right onto the head of Parker and he flicked it home. The Amakhosi equalised, on the hour mark, when Dolly, who had just come on as a substitute for his debut, played the ball between the lines for Billiat to run onto and fire on the slide, first-time, into Mweene’s right-hand corner. Modiba threaded the ball through for Zwane, down the inside right channel, but the angle was too tight and Khune came out to smother the danger.
Khune had to be alert once again, in the third minute of the first-half of extra-time, when Lakay was teed up just outside the left-hand side of the box and he fired a stinging drive straight at the Amakhosi shot-stopper, who pushed the ball away from danger.
Nange was then teed up on the edge of the box, in a promising position, and curled it towards Mweene’s left-hand corner, and the veteran shot-stopper dived full-length, to make an excellent save.
Safranko, having come on as a substitute with much expectation, missed a gilt-edged opportunity when he headed wide from close range, after having been picked by Neo Maema’s accurate cross. The sides still could not be separated, after extra-time, and so the tie went to penalties.
Mweene made four brilliant saves in the shoot-out, and netted one himself, to put the hosts into the last four, at the expense of their Soweto counterparts. However, there was drama when Khune appeared to pluck the ball, which had crossed the line, only for the match officials to miss it.
It wasn’t the only thing they missed as Mweene, now and again, seemed to come off his line, giving him an unfair advantage, during the shoot-out.
Source – The Herald
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