21 July 2008
Manchester United had to be satisfied with a come-from-behind 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs in the opening match of the Vodacom Challenge in front of a capacity crowd at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
It was a pre-season outing for both clubs and Chiefs will, no doubt, be more satisfied with the outcome than the English Premier League and European Champions League title-holders.
The Amakhosi, rather than being overawed by their illustrious opposition, clearly saw the match as an opportunity to make a name for themselves, rather than a game from which they hoped to emerge with a draw. Yes, it did end in a draw, but it was not a defensive effort from Chiefs, who took the game to the Red Devils.
The South African team was the first to have a crack at goal through David Mathebula, but his shot from distance was safely dealt with by United goalkeeper Tomasz Kusczak.
Siphiwe Tshabalala had a half-chance only a minute later, but his slight hesitation before shooting gave United’s defenders time to block his shot.
Wayne Rooney, whose hair-trigger temperament was unfortunately on display, had an opportunity after 10 minutes with a free kick, but his show flew harmlessly over the crossbar.
Chris Eagles had a shot blocked by defender Tinashe Nengomashe before Tevez came close with the head. Captain Gary Neville then picked out the Argentine striker on the near post, but his header passed narrowly wide of the goals.
With 37 minutes played, Chiefs were awarded a penalty when Neville fouled Siphiwe Tshabalala as he burst onto the ball and into the area at an angle. Jonathan Quartey took the spot kick and easily beat Kusczak by sending him the wrong way.
The Amakhosi took that 1-0 lead into the break.
Tevez was again wide with a header after six minutes of the second half and two minutes later the Red Devils very nearly had the game taken out of their reach.
A half-cleared ball inside United’s fell to new Chiefs’ striker Jose Torrealba, but he rushed his shot and failed to connect properly. The ball hit Wes Brown and passed off of the defender to Kusczak’s right and wide of the post.
The English champions finally drew level on the hour mark. A deep cross by Tevez found Chris Eagles at the back post and his powerful header skipped off the back of Jimmy Tau’s head and into the back of the net.
Rooney was replaced when he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Nengomashe. Earlier in the match he had lashed out at Onismor Bashera, but the referee had missed the incident. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had seen enough, however, and replaced the star striker.
Despite falling behind, Chiefs were not about to try and play out for a draw and Gert Schalkwyk was just off target after Bhasera found him with a good cross.
Ultimately, however, both teams had to be satisfied with a draw.
Praise for Khune
After the match, Ferguson said Chiefs had performed well and he singled out Amakhosi goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune for praise, saying he was especially impressed by the 21-year-old’s distribution, which often put his team onto the counter-attack.
Kaizer Chiefs’ coach Muhsin Ertugral said he was pleased with the commitment shown by his players, but said he is still working on combinations. He said the performance augers well for the new season. Last season, Chiefs finished a sixth in the PSL.
The side’s new captain Jimmy Tau felt his team had learnt a lot and said he was proud of the way they played.
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