Kaizer Chiefs have underlined their Absa Premiership title credentials with a 2-0 away win over champions Mamelodi Sundowns at a packed Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Amakhosi’s victory – secured by a brace from Samir Nurkovic – opens up a five-point lead over the Brazilians at the top of the log and confirms them as genuine contenders to dethrone the Tshwane club in the domestic championship.
The start of the game was delayed to prevent a stampede after supporters arrived late to the venue. Once underway, it was Chiefs who claimed the early ascendancy: a seventh minute cross from Reeve Frosler was missed by Leonardo Castro at the near post, but Samir Nurkovic arrived at the far post to bundle the ball home and see the visitors take a 1-0 lead.
Sundowns went on to dominate possession for the rest of the first half, but struggled to create any clear openings against a resilient and disciplined Chiefs defence. In fact, it was the Amakhosi who looked the more dangerous unit when they went forward on counter attack raids.
The Soweto side suffered an injury blow just after the half-hour mark when right wingback Reeve Frosler was forced to withdraw, allowing midfielder George Maluleka to come on as the first substitute of the match.
Sundowns should have equalised in injury time at the end of the first half, with Sibusiso Vilakazi teeing up Andile Jali with a great chance in the penalty area, but the hard-working midfielder blazed his shot over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The hosts changed up their attack at the start of the second half with the introduction of Mauricio Affonso in place of Vilakazi. The substitute had a couple of fine chances within the opening 15 minutes of restart, but failed to trouble Akpeyi with either.
Instead it was Chiefs who doubled their lead in the 78th minute, with Khama Billiat doing well to create a chance out of Dumisani Zuma’s cut-back from the left by-line, and Nurkovic was on hand to fire home the loose ball and secure victory for the Amakhosi.
Nurkovic very nearly had a hat-trick a few minutes later, beating Kennedy Mweene to a cross from the left flank only to see his glancing header flash just off target.
The teams will return to Absa Premiership action on November 6: Chiefs will be away to Chippa in Port Elizabeth, while Sundowns will head to Polokwane to face Baroka FC.
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS 0
KAIZER CHIEFS (1) 2 (Nurkovic 7’ 78’)
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS: Mweene, Ngcongca, Madisha, Lebusa, Langerman, Morena (Maboe 82’), Kekana, Jali, Vilakazi (Affonso 46’), Sirino, Meza (Lakay 76’)
KAIZER CHIEFS : Akpeyi, Frosler (Maluleka 34’), Sasman (Ngezana 77’), Cardoso, Mathoho, Blom, Katsande, Manyama, Nurkovic, Billiat, Castro (Zuma 68’)