Thursday, 10 April 2014

Are we witnessing the rise and fall of the Kaizer Chiefs empire? Or is it just a lack of Knowledge?

Dogged approach: Baxter and Barker
The rise and fall of the Roman Empire swept away entire civilizations and plunged the world in to centuries of despair now known as the Dark Ages. There was a real fear generations of Knowledge would simply be forgotten.

Fortunately, not many of us were around to witness that, though I'm reliably informed the Italian defenders were put to the sword, boss "Screamer" Nero fiddled and his squad burned.

The estimated 15 million AmaKhosi in South Africa may have felt they were witnessing the fall of Kaizer Chiefs last night with the same feeling of shock and awe; the emperor Stuart Baxter stood powerless in the emptying Calabash while his champions simply fell apart against the invaders from the north, led by a tiny terror known as The Dog.

Quite how Mpumalanga Black Aces managed to sack the Chiefs empire I'm not sure. Supersub Miguel Timm's late winner was simply a ridiculous coup de grace on a night of abysmal failure.

While Itumeleng Khune celebrated his 200th game in goal sitting on a deckchair, his strike-force were simply absent. Kingston Nkatha, not the most popular of gladiators from our northern neighbors, was replaced by the former killer Katlego Mphela. He was rubbish. Matthew Rusike flattered to deceive, George Lebese didn't even flatter.

The big men who normally do manage to score simply couldn't. With Eric Mouth of the Lion Mathoho again mysteriously missing from the centre-back pairing, it was left to Morgan Gould and Tefu Mashamaite to fail from the usually reliable set-pieces though Simphiwe Shabalala's delivery remained impeccable.

And with an alaraming lack of Knowledge Musona, top scorer Bernard Parker - obviously suffering from that long-standing ankle injury - missed the chance of the night before returning to his cloak of invisibility.

Unbeaten at home since Baxter's arrival in 2012, Chiefs have now lost successive Soccer City encounters with equal levels of bemusement. As Baxter groaned last night: "At worst we should have drawn both these games 0-0, instead we have managed to lose them both."

The delightfully unlucky 1-0 defeat against  Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday was followed by the late sucker punch from Clive Barker's men and Itumeleng Khune was left with little to celebrate in his 200th game for Chiefs.

Barker? All smiles: "Wonderful, Marvellous." The little man even claims his Aces - who purchased a world record 35 players this season - could have been title contenders had they had a few more weeks of preparation. Remember Aces could have - should have - had a penalty too in the first half as Willard "Assault and Vinegar" Katsande clattered the dangerous Ndoro.

Down the road in Tshwane, it was so different. Pitso Mosimane, the all-conquering rival with Patrice Motsepe's billions behind him, led Mamelodi Sundowns to the top of the table with a streaky 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic.

Now three points clear of Kaizer Chiefs, who have a game in hand, Pitso is ready to sack Soweto. So too is Gavin Hunt after a sneaky late win over Platinum Stars from his Clever Boys. it's getting tight. Here's what Pitso said:

"Times are tough, you can see how strong Celtic are. In my opinion they played better than us. But at this point in time it is about getting results. It's not about playing pretty football.

"We must stay humble, there is a long way to go. We will see what we can do in the cup this weekend [against Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals]."

Chiefs too go to Nedbank Cup action - on Saturday against SuperSport United - and then we return to the PSL where Sundowns must face THE DOG on Wednesday while Chiefs go to Polokwane City. Wits are home to flightless Moroka Swallows.

Unlike the fall of the Roman Empire. This one's not over. Yet.

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