By Sports Focus Reporter
Kaizer Chiefs needed extra time to see off the challenge of First Division side Nathi Lions in their Nedbank Cup Last 32 tie on Sunday, claiming an unconvincing 3-2 win at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
After falling out of the Nedbank Cup at the hands of second-tier sides in the past two seasons, the Amakhosi came into the came looking to avoid a hat-trick of embarrassments.
They achieved their goal and have advanced to the second round, but will take little confidence from this performance in which they gave away a two-goal lead and needed a penalty early in extra time to claim the victory.
Chiefs made five changes to the team that started in the 1-1 draw with Free State Stars last weekend, the most notable of which saw youngsters Mandla Masango and George Lebese start on the flanks, while Kaizer Motaung Jr replaced the injured Knowledge Musona up front.
Chiefs created a good early chance for Stanton Lewis, with some nifty passing on the edge of the box opening up some space for the striker to get away a shot, but goalkeeper Philani Zikalala got his body well behind the effort.
On the quarter-hour mark, Lions threatened to take the lead with a scuffed volley from Nthuthuko Madlala that looked destined to loop into the back of the net, but Itumeleng Khune did well to tip the ball over his crossbar.
The Amakhosi ‘keeper was called into action again just four minutes later, punching away a dangerous cross from Themba Makhoba as the hosts showed that they had no intention of letting the Soweto giants have it all their own way.
However, midway through the first half, just after a water break, Amakhosi broke the deadlock. Mandla Masango picked out a great diagonal ball for George Lebese that sprung Lions’ offside trap and the left-footer finished the chance with aplomb to rack up his first official goal for the club.
Seven minutes later Chiefs doubled their advantage, cutting open the hosts’ backline with a swift counter attack that put Lewis clean through on goal – the striker finished beautifully to the left of Zikalala to put his team 2-0 up and well in the driving seat.
At the start of the second half it seemed as if Chiefs would be able to stroll through the rest of the game and easily book their place in the Last 16, but Makhoba halved the deficit in the 48th minute, ghosting in unmarked at the back post to head home from a Moses Chavula free kick.
The Soweto side didn’t respond particularly well to conceding the goal, as they looked lethargic and struggled to move the ball at pace, while Amabhubesi certainly worked hard to get men behind the ball and make life difficult for their illustrious visitors.
The introduction of Gerald Sibeko (who was making his first appearance of the 2010/11 season) just past the hour mark seemed to inject some life into the Amakhosi, but they still struggled to create opportunities to extend their lead.
And they were duly punished with just under a quarter hour of regulation time remaining. Sibeko was guilty of mis-controlling the ball in his own box and Lindani Zungu pounced, scoring with a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-2 and send the game to an extra 30 minutes.
Six minutes into extra time, Lions central defender Siyabonga Shoyisa gave away a needless penalty after a barge into the back of Lewis. Sibeko, at fault for the home team’s second goal, redeemed himself by converting the spot kick, though Zikalala got a hand to it and very nearly kept it out. The penalty, which took the score to 3-2, proved decisive.
Nathi Lions (0) (2) 2 (Makhoba 48’, Zungu 76’)
Kaizer Chiefs (2) (2) 3 (Lebese 23’, Lewis 30’, Sibeko 97’ pen) – After extra time
Lions: (4-4-2) Zikalala; N. Mncube, Mkhwanazi, Shoyisa, Chavula; Madlala (Makhanya 73’), Dlamini, Maruping, M. Mncube (Sigwebela 83’); Zungu, Makhoba (Zaca 68’)
Chiefs: (4-4-2) Khune; Tau, Isaacs, Sweswe, Jambo (Baloyi 59’); Masango, Nengomasha (Sibeko 65’), Letsholonyane, Lebese (Mateba 77’); Motaung Jr, Lewis
Referee: Buyile Gqubule
Cautions: Chavula, Shoyisa, Mkhwanazi; Lewis
Dismissal: Shoyisa (after the final whistle