aizer Chiefs’ slow start to the DStv Premiership season continued on Saturday when they drew 2-2 with Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.
The Amakhosi at least showed better attacking precision and saw Leonardo Castro score twice, but they conceded to Abafana Bes’thende’s Siboniso Conco and Nduduzo Sibiya to share the points, with the result leaving the Soweto side in ninth and their Durban hosts in fourth.
Chiefs enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter, but Arrows created the better chances. The hosts should have claimed the lead in the third minute when Siboniso Conco squared for Michael Gumede in the penalty area, but the striker skied his effort.
Just past the quarter hour mark Chiefs needed Itumeleng Khune to make a sharp save, with a Seth Parusnath free kick from wide on the left flank almost drifting into the net, but the goalkeeper did well to back-pedal and turn the effort away from danger.
Midway through the first half Conco threatened to open the scoring for the hosts, providing a fine turn and shot from the ‘D’ of the penalty area only for the ball to flash just wide of Khune’s left-hand upright.
Chiefs managed to quell the danger of Arrows’ fast-paced attacks through the remainder of the first half and almost broke the deadlock 10 minutes before the break, with Leonardo Castro heading onto the top of the crossbar from a fine cross by Philani Zulu.
Abafana Bes’thende goalkeeper Sifiso Mlungwana was a busy man in the minutes before the interval – particularly in saving at point-blank range from Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Castro – to ensure the game was goalless at half time.
In just the fourth minute of the second half, Arrows claimed the lead through a well-taken penalty from Conco. The spot kick was a debatable one, with Willard Katsande appearing to win the ball first in a challenge with Zolani Nkombelo just inside the box.
Chiefs responded well to going behind and created a couple of good chances before levelling on 58 minutes, with Castro heading home from Khama Billiat’s corner kick as the Amakhosi rediscovered their penchant for set-piece goals.
Arrows could have reclaimed the lead almost immediately as a slip in defence allowed Gumede a clear sight of goal, but Khune made an excellent save to keep the game level at 1-1. The hosts then made a double change by introducing Nduduzo Sibiya and Knox Mutizwa from the bench.
Chiefs claimed the lead for the first time on 65 minutes with a fine team goal, as a precise passing move put Billiat in behind the defence, and the Zimbabwean unselfishly squared for Castro to have a tap-in and make it 2-1 to the visitors.
Arrows responded with an even better crafted goal on 70 minutes to make it 2-2: Mutizwa ran onto a through ball, cleverly teed up his fellow sub and Sibiya struck home a beautiful effort with his left foot, giving Khune no chance of a save.
Both teams pushed for a winner in the dying minutes, but neither was able to add to the score line. Chiefs will return to DStv Premiership action on Tuesday with a clash away to Soweto rivals Swallows FC, while Arrows will be away to TS Galaxy next Saturday.
Golden Arrows (0) 2 (Conco 49’ pen, Sibiya 70’)
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Castro 58’ 65’)
ARROWS: Mlungwana, S. Dube, Sibisi, Mathiane, Nkombelo, Shitolo, Parusnath (Sabelo 71’), Ndwandwe, Mmodi, Conco (Sibiya 62’), M. Gumede (Mutizwa 62’)
CHIEFS: Khune, Moleko (Akumu 90+2’), Mphahlele, Cardoso, Ngezana, Zulu, Katsande, Ngcobo (Matsheke 82’), Manyama (Blom 76’), Billiat, Castro (Parker 76’)