Kgatleng outfit, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, might have restored their chances of winning their first ever Premiership title by walloping Uniao Flamengo Santos by three goals to nil on Friday evening but they still have a long way to go. Chiefs have now played 22 games, three less than log leaders, Ecco City Greens. Chiefs have to pray that Ecco City, together with BDF XI, loose four of their five remaining games provided they (Chiefs) do not drop a single point. Ecco are looking forward to make history and become the first team north of Dibete to win the Mascom Premier League title.
Chiefs came into the Friday game knowing that a loss or a draw would dampen their chances. Despite winning by a huge margin, Chiefs struggled in the first half and Santos nearly finished them off, but they could not convert their chances. The culprits were Thato Siska, Kgakgamatso Pharo, Parker Mampori and Vincent Kgaswane Phiri. Chiefs’ goalie, Raphael Nthwaane, also stood firm between the goalposts as he produced some brilliant saves.
The first half ended with none of the two teams able to break the deadlock. But when the second half resumed, Chiefs were a different and a recharged team. They launched attacks from almost all angles and it paid off as they took the lead six minutes into the second half through Othusitse ‘Jabu’ Pilane. Pilane, who had a quiet first half, pounced on a loose ball inside the 18 area leaving Santos goalie, Boikhutso Magowe, sprawling on the tuff. The Santos defence, led by Talinda Nyathi, should take full responsibility for giving away an easy goal because they reacted late and Pilane sneaked in from the blind spot. After Chiefs’ goal, one thought Santos would come to their senses and search for an equaliser.
It was not to be and the introduction of the Chiefs’ prodigal sons, Molathegi ‘Teenage’ Podile and Steven ‘Shamwari’ Maposa for Elijah Phiriepa and Oteng Moalosi paid dividends as they forced Santos to back pedal most of the time. Podile put Chiefs further ahead in the 63rd minute following some spade work by Pontsho Moloi. Moloi realised that Podile was running freely on the right flank and he supplied a pinpoint cross which Podile slotted in with ease. After the goal, it was one way traffic for Chiefs as Magowe, together with his defence, had to deal with marauding Chiefs strikers. Santos also tried to surge forward but still could not find the back of the net. Luck was also somehow not on Santos side as some of their chances missed the goal post by inches, with goalkeeper Nthwaane well beaten.
Chiefs put the game beyond doubt through a solo effort by Maposa. Maposa intercepted a pass in the middle of the pack and cut across the field before unleashing a thunderbolt that did not give Magowe a chance at all. The goal sent Chiefs supporters into wild celebrations because they knew that the only way to strongly challenge Ecco is not only by winning but by also scoring an avalanche of goals.
Despite the absence of their prolific goal scorer, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Chiefs had a good combination upfront. They could have scored many goals had Keaketswe ‘Mara’ Moloi not wasted chances that came his way. He was eventually substituted for Stanley Tsolope, who impressed with his dazzling runs.