If Kaizer Chiefs go on to win this year’s Telkom Knockout title, they will look back on their last 16 clash against Maritzburg United at the FNB Stadium last night as a point of reference. That is because Lady Luck was on Amakhosi’s side when they edged the Team of Choice 4-2 on penalties after the game ended goalless in regulation time.
Lots could have gone wrong for Amakhosi on the night, but they somehow booked their place in the quarterfinals. It was not a vintage performance but they rode their luck to keep their dream of winning this tournament alive in a game that will be remembered for bad weather conditions that forced the game to be temporarily stopped for nearly half an hour as a result of power failure at the FNB Stadium. Amakhosi have managed to win their last five matches in all competitions. Kurt Lentjies and Deolin Mekoa were the villains for United in the shoot-out, while Amakhosi converted all their spot kicks. Keagan Buchanan tucked away the winning penalty for Amakhosi.
Chiefs warmed up for the Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates on Saturday at the same venue with this hard fought win. But the Team of Choice gave the home side a big scare when they hit the post, not once but twice, and they also had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
Ernst Middendorp’s charges also had a penalty shout turned down by referee Thando Ndzandzeka in the first half.
The heavy downpour in the second period forced the game to be stopped temporarily. In admittedly difficult conditions with the rain and the wind playing their part, both teams struggled in extra time. Chiefs also defeated the United 2-0 at the same venue in a controversial Premiership encounter last month. The visitors had a goal disallowed and they were aggrieved after that intense match. Revenge was on their minds as they looked to pull off an upset and they will consider themselves unlucky not to have achieved their goal.
The Soweto giants were booted out of the MTN8 first round and the pressure of ending the domestic campaign with a trophy was mounting heavily on the players.
Chiefs coach Steve Komphela is expected to deliver some silverware at any cost this season. Amakhosi were beaten 3-1 in the cup final by bitter rivals Mamelodi Sundowns at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban last season, while the Team of Choice were booted out of the competition by Pirates in the quarterfinals.
Chiefs last won this competition in the 2010/2011 season, while United’s biggest achievement was a semifinal berth in the same season.
United’s stats against Amakhosi on the road does not make for good reading. Chiefs recorded 12 wins, sharing the spoils on seven occasions and losing five times in all competitions. In fact United have never managed a win against Chiefs on the road as five of their victories were registered in Pietermaritzburg. Amakhosi completed a hat-trick of victories in the cup competition with two of those wins coming from the Telkom Knockout tournament. The odds were heavily stacked against the visitors. Free State Stars were the surprise package of the first round when they claimed Bidvest Wits scalp with a 3-1 victory at home.