Baroka FC gave their supporters hope of a more enjoyable season after they opened their DStv Premiership campaign with a 2-1 win over Maritzburg United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
Bakgaga, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, have begun this term with a full haul of three points thanks to goals from Richard Mbulu and Nhlanhla Mgaga, while the Team of Choice have some concerns to address – having also fallen out of the MTN8 last weekend.
United created the first opening six minutes into the match, with Judas Moseamedi slipping in Thabiso Kutumela, but the latter striker pulled his effort wide of the mark and failed to test Baroka goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze.
Baroka soon broke the deadlock, taking advantage of some less-than-ideal defending from Maritzburg to present Richard Mbulu with an easy chance which he tucked from close range to make it 1-0 in the 10th minute. Ananias Gebhardt provided the assist.
The Team of Choice should have brought themselves level midway through the first half when Moseamedi had a free header from a corner kick, but the attacker was unable to hit the target. A few minutes later Kutumela got on the end of a cross from Daylon Claasen and forced Chipezeze into palming his effort away.
Maritzburg continued to probe for an equaliser up to the halftime break, but the interval arrived with hosts Baroka still 1-0 to the good. The visitors continued their momentum early in the second stanza with an effort from Tebogo Tlolane which was well saved by Chipezeze in the 47th minute.
However, Bakgaga went on to double their advantage in the 57th minute. Nhlanhla Mgaga skipped past a challenge from Nazeer Allie before getting away a shot from the ‘D’ of the penalty area which beat Bongani Mpandle low to his right for 2-0.
United look to fight back and went close through defender Rushine De Reuck, who headed just off target in the 65th minute, as well as Sibusiso Hlubi, whose curling effort in the 71st was clawed away by the excellent Chipezeze.
The visitors finally broke through in the 85th minute when substitute Jose Ali Meza struck home a fine effort to set up a thrilling end to the game, but ultimately it proved no more than a consolation as the Limpopo hosts were able to see out the game and claim the victory.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming midweek, with Baroka away to provincial rivals Black Leopards on Tuesday and Maritzburg hosting Cape Town City the following day.