Kaizer Chiefs got their Absa Premiership campaign off to a winning start after securing a 3-2 victory over Highlands Park at the Makhulong Stadium on Sunday afternoon, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Amakhosi failed to secure their place in the Absa premiership top eight last season after finish ninth in the league.
Chiefs were one of the busiest teams during the current transfer window after signing Lazarous Kambole, Samir Nurkovic, Kearyn Baccus, James Kotei and Yagan Sasman.
Meanwhile, the Lions of the North booked their place inside the leagues top eight after finishing in seventh place during the 2018-19 season.
The Glamour Boys have a good record against Highlands and have won three of their last four outings between the two teams, with Chiefs claiming a 3-2 victory over the Lions of the North in the previous meeting between the sides.
The visitors got off to a perfect start and took the lead in the fifth minute when Kearyn Baccus picked out Lebogang Manyama at the near post to header the ball goalkeeper past Marlon Heugh.
Highlands came close to equalising in the 17th minute after Sphiwe Mahlangu played a one-two with Wayde Jolste before taking aim at goal, but a lack of strength in his shot saw Bruce Bvuma comfotable collect the ball.
The home side did managed to level matters five minutes later when Peter Shalulile played a ball into the path og Rodney Ramagalela, who reacted the quickest to slot the ball home.
Chiefs nearly restored their lead in the 31st minute after Manyama delivered a ball to Samir Nurkovic, but the Serbian’s diving header narrowly missed the target.
The game went into the half time break level at 1-1.
Ernst Middendorp opted to bring on a fresh pair of leagues early in the second half when Dumisani Zuma came on to replace debutant Baccus in the 46th minute.
At the other end, Shalulile put his side ahead with a neat turn before calmly slotting the ball home from close range.
The visitors responded well and levelled matters three minutes later after Nurkovic nodded the ball into the path of Manyama, who placed the ball into the far corner to make it 2-2.
Middendorp made his second substitution in the 63rd minute when George Maluleka came on to replace Willard Katsande, while Owen Da Gama made a change of his own when he introduced Mlungisi Mbunjana in place of Jooste.
Amakhosi should have taken the lead three minutes later when Bernard Parker picked out Zuma in the area, but Heugh did well to deny the Chiefs attacker.
The Soweto giants should have scored a third goal in the 78th minute but Nurkovic was unable direct his header towards the target.
Chiefs’ persistence paid off as they managed to take the lead in the 82nd minute after Eric Mathoho’s volley deflected past Heugh to make it 3-2.
Mahlangu should have levelled matters in stoppage time when he unleashed a strike at goal but the midfielder was unable to keep his strike down as it sailed over the crossbar.
Both sides pressed forward in the closing stages of the game but Amakhosi held on to their lead over Highlands until the final whistle to claim all three points at the Makhulong Stadium.
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