Kaizer Chiefs hand Wits a lesson in finesse in 2-0 win

Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Deon Hotto of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs at the Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg on 09 January 2019.
Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Deon Hotto of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs at the Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg on 09 January 2019.
Image: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Once Kaizer Chiefs found a rhythm in the second half to counter Absa Premiership leaders Bidvest Wits' physicality, they handed the Clever Boys a lesson in finesse in Wednesday night's 2-0 win at Bidvest Stadium.

Amakhosi's goals came in a classy second half that might have gone a long way winning over the doubters of new coach Ernst Middendorp's technical credentials, the goals arriving from Leonardo Castro in the 58th minute and Hendrick Ekstein in the 78th.

Wits versus Chiefs matches can be attractive.

Right now - with Chiefs regrouping coming into the game in eighth; and Wits top thanks to a lumbering, effective back four, hard-working midfield two and frontline that at times can seem ornamental - not so much.

Sometimes Wits are like a crab crawling across a beach sideways who you just want to grab and tell, 'You know, it is possible to do that forwards too!' The crab gets results, though; pedantically, painfully inching to its side, carefully placing one pincer after the other. So hey, each one to their own.

It was once Chiefs were able to find an increasing and impressive and at times quite attractive rhythm in their passing and touches on the ball in answer to the Wits boa constrictor that the match improved in the second half.

And once they did that, Amakhosi  gave the Students a lesson in refinement.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt had back fullbacks Thulani Hlatshwayo (injury) and Sifiso Hlanti (suspension), and midfielder Thabang Monare (also a suspension) from his team's winning away return from the Christmas break against Free State Stars (2-1), and all three walked into the starting XI.

Middendorp retained the 3-5-2 formation that had Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane guessing in Amakhosi's 2-1 defeat at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Teenage Hadebe came in for injured Willard Katsande at centreback. Kgotso Moleko came in at right wingback, Emmanuel Ntiya-Ntiya moving to his usual left, and Godfrey Walusimbi to the bench.

The first half was, well, crabby.

Wits made life awkward with their aggression and work rate in the first half. Chiefs, of course, had a plan under Middendorp, and it did not involve doing anything over-exuberant.

Amakhosi's little attacking talisman Billiat was lost in such a physical tussle, and could not get a service to telepathic centre-forward partner Castro.

But Amakhosi came out upping the ante up-front from the break, Castro seeking out the ball. After seconds earlier slipping a pass just in front of the run of Billiat, the Colombian opened the scoring.

Ntiya-Ntiya's low ball in from the left got the touch-on at the near post from Castro, and the efforts of Darren Keet and Robyn Johannes could not stop the ball going over.

Chiefs' second came from an beautifully orchestrated buildup. Steadily improving Ekstein rounded off a move he started in midfield. The ball was worked via the classy Lebogang Manyama on the edge of the area to Castro on then left, then substitute Bernard Parker, and then back to Ekstein to tap into an open goal.

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