Chiefs' title hopes dwindle
KAIZER Chiefs produced little evidence of a potential new dawn under fresh management here last night as they lost a second successive game since firing coach Vladimir Vermezovic.
This time, a shock 1-0 loss to Maritzburg United, who before the game were the only side in the Premier Soccer League without an away win this season, delivered a potentially mortal blow to Chiefs' hopes of still launching a title challenge.
Caretaker coach Donald Khuse has now lost his two matches in charge since last Thursday's dismissal of the taciturn Serb, and Amakhosi face a rare season without any silverware.
"There is still a slight chance of winning the title," said Khuse in a post-match interview but without much conviction.
United bagged the points after spending much of the game on the back foot, catching their opponents on the counter attack, with a goal from recent signing Cuthbert Malajila.
It was a night of perfect tactics for coach Ernst Middendorp, who packed his defence and then looked to catch his former team on the counter attack - planning which worked to perfection.
The dour German had led Lamontville Golden Arrows to a similar shock victory at the same stadium over Chiefs in September.
The Team of Choice, who climbed three places after the win, looked more determined while AmaKhosi, who had a lion's share of possession, were bereft of ideas, even to the extent of allowing goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune to take a late free kick that offered them the chance of a dramatic equaliser.
They did strike the woodwork through Abia Nale and might have had a legitimate claim for a penalty, but it was the same for the visitors.
The goal that added to Chiefs' misery and silenced the side's supporters last night was scored by Malajila in the 76th minute.
United, who are 10th in the standings on 29 points, are left with five games to wrap up their campaign.
The KwaZulu-Natal outfit face log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in their next league match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Chiefs, on the other hand, will be hoping to save face at the expense of strugglers Santos at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday.