Still no trophy for Komphela as Chiefs edged in TKO semi by Wits
Bidvest Wits might have started their season as defending league champions miserably, but any team coached by Gavin Hunt will always be on the roam for trophies.
Wits are into their first cup final of the season in the Telkom Knockout after negotiating past a fired-up, 10-man Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s semifinal at Bidvest Stadium.
And for Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela, the chances of winning a trophy after two barren seasons now rest in his third campaign with the Nedbank Cup and the league.
Wiseman Meyiwa was red-carded for Chiefs in the 27th-minute. James Keene opened the scoring for Wits from the resultant free-kick in the 28th.
If Wits had edged the first half, Chiefs tried to throw themselves at the Clever Boys in the second. But their composure in the final third let Amakhosi down.
Both sides have had their share of injuries.
Chiefs coach Steve Komphela has produced a 3-5-2 formation that was necessitated by absence, particularly at right-back, and not changed since that, and a switch from a pressing game to a counterattack, started working for him.
He had Siyabonga Ngezana, Daniel Cardoso and Mulomowandau Mathoho as his centrebacks on Saturday, and Joseph Molangoane and Philani Zulu the wing-backs. No surprises there.
A little strange, perhaps, was that on his home ground, though also hit by injuries, Wits counterpart Hunt opted to replicate Komphela’s 3-5-2.
Buhle Mkhwanazi got a first start from long-term injury in-between Phumlani Ntshangase and Sifiso Hlanti in central defence. Notably, Hunt had his two big centre-forward danger men, Amr Gamal and Keene, deployed out alongside each other up-front.
With two teams aligned this way, clearly set up for the counter and the wait and probe, this was always going to be a cautiously approached game.
And for the large part, as Wits' enthusiastic but rather tuneless brass band is no Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the ball was hacked across the Bidvest pitch with more gusto than finesse by these two not-overly in-form teams.
Both sides had half-chances in the opening exchanges.
Gamal turned Mathoho on the right of Chiefs' area and shot at Itumeleng Khune from a tight angle. Siphiwe Tshabalala's corner found Mulomowandau Mathoho to head over for Amakhosi.
In the 27th Meyiwa stepped on the foot of Daine Klate and referee Victor Gomes got his call right to produce a straight red.
The free-kick was swung to the far post from right midfield by Thabang Monare, headed back by Mkhwanazi, then headed past Khune by Keene.
Komphela opted for attack in the second half, bringing on striker Gustavo Paez for Cardoso. Within minutes the Venezuelan was found onside and alone to streak down the left by Willard Katsande's chip, but only found the head of Ntshangase with his cross.
Chiefs continued to probe as Wits could not use their man's advantage to get on the front foot.
Amakhosi found offsides from threatening positions and another substitute, Dumisani Zuma, on for Bernard Parker, curled a shot wide. Paez's pass put Zuma through who forced a save one-on-one with Darren Keet.
In truth, Chiefs deserved a second-half goal, as Katsande's header in the last 10 minutes that was palmed over by Keet was another decent opportunity.