Kaizer Chiefs’ Absa Premiership title hopes went up in smoke on Saturday afternoon after they were held 1-1 by Baroka at the Bidvest Stadium, a result which handed the championship glory to Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Amakhosi needed only to match Sundowns’ result against Black Leopards, but after claiming the lead they were unable to push on and secure the three points – instead allowing Bakgaga back into the game to pick up a draw which ensures they avoid the relegation playoffs.
Both teams had decent chances within the opening quarter hour, as Lebogang Manyama missed out on a free header after a fine cross from Daniel Cardoso, while Baroka’s Evidence Makgopa had a sight of goal from within the penalty area but his saw his shot well blocked by Eric Mathoho.
Midway through the first half Chiefs’ Reeve Frosler sent a thunderous drive on target, but he was brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze. The Amakhosi had begun building real pressure by this stage, but the cooling break allowed Baroka to reorganise and stem the tide somewhat.
However, with half time approaching, Chiefs began to reassert their dominance and duly claimed the lead on 39 minutes. Samir Nurkovic held off Denwin Farmer in an aerial battle for a route one pass, Khama Billiat picked up the ball, skipped past Bonginkosi Makume and sent a low, left-footed shot beyond the reach of Chipezeze.
The Soweto giants led 1-0 at the break, having been lucky to get away with a clear hand-ball from goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune outside of his penalty area in injury time.
Baroka showed far more urgency in attack from the start of the second stanza and notably threatened on 53 minutes when midfielder Manuel Kambala struck a low shot wide of Khune’s left-hand post.
The Mozambican’s warning was not heeded by Chiefs, and Baroka claimed an equaliser on 59 minutes. Kambala got up highest to meet Gerald Phiri Jr’s in-swinging free kick and powered a header home to make it 1-1.
Chiefs made a triple substitution after the second-half cooling break, with Dumisani Zuma, Lazarous Kambole and Anthony Akumu coming off the bench in an effort to try and win the game. However, they created no clear chances against a resilient Baroka defence, which was able to hold out and secure a point which ensures they will play in the top flight next season – and deny the Amakhosi title glory.
Baroka FC (0) 1 (Kambala 59’)
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Billiat 39’)
Baroka: Chipezeze, Makume, Farmer (Kgoetyane 69’), Sibiya, Gebhardt, Masiya (Patjie 65’), Kambala, Mosele, Phiri Jr (Mbulu 84’), Mgaga, Makgopa (Nkabinde 84’)
Chiefs: Khune, Moleko (Kambole 69’), Mathoho, Cardoso, Sasman, Parker (Zuma 69’), Katsande (Akumu 69’), Manyama, Frosler, Billiat, Nurkovic