It was a comeback Ramahlwe Mphahlele would have liked, leading the Kaizer Chiefs from the rear to a 1-0 win over Sekhukhune United in a DStv Premiership match at Emirates Airlines Park (formerly Ellis Park) on Saturday afternoon.
In preparing for the game, Mphahlele had recounted the fond memories he had of the place where he made his professional debut some 16 years ago.
Then 16-year-old Mphahlele helped Moroka Swallows win 1-0 over the Orlando Pirates by providing an assist.
Now, the 32-year-old defender has scored the only goal to help the Chiefs keep their chances of qualifying for Caf competitions next season alive.
The match was played at a pedestrian pace, with neither team having a pace in the early exchanges. Sekhukhune looked the most upset and couldn’t even put three passes together without losing possession – the same could be said for Chiefs, however.
The only vibrant factor in the game was the singing of the fans who were out in decent numbers and in a cheerful mood.
Perhaps it was understandable for the Chiefs to struggle to move forward with at least three of their regular starters not available for the match.
Keagan Dolly suffered a calf strain she suffered during training and was ruled out. Kearyn Baccus was also out with a knee injury from which the team hoped he would recover in time for the game.
Phathutshedzo Nange was also a notable absentee as he served a match ban after receiving his fourth yellow card against Mamelodi Sundowns last week.
But with all that said, Amakhosi started to improve towards the end of the first half, with Khama Billiat leading the team up front.
He was landed in the 38th minute, got up and took the resulting free kick. The 31-year-old got up and folded the free-kick, a Sekhukhune defender tried to defend himself but pointed to Mphahlele that he didn’t make a mistake.
Mphahlele’s initial header hits the crossbar, but the ball bounces off him and crosses the line.
Babina Noko came back a better team for the second half, and started to put some authority into their game and block the Chiefs a bit. They have created some possibilities. But they also got some fear when the bosses tried to catch them on a bench a few times.
The Chiefs relegation threatened Swallows FC in their last game at FNB Stadium next weekend.