Nkosingiphile Ngcobo scored the first goal and created the second as Kaizer Chiefs recovered from a Covid-19 crisis to beat Sekhukhune United 2-0 on Sunday and rise to second in the South African Premiership.
Chiefs, the best-supported club in the republic and the most successful with 53 domestic titles, were unable to fulfil two recent league fixtures after a coronavirus outbreak sidelined 48 players and staff.
England-born head coach Stuart Baxter was among those who had not recovered by this weekend, but assistant Arthur Zwane guided Chiefs to a victory that lifted the side five places.
Chiefs have 25 points from 14 matches, 12 less than leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played one match more in the richest African league with a 15 million rand ($940,000/830,000 euro) first prize.
Ngcobo put Chiefs ahead behind closed doors in the 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium with a low shot on 25 minutes that eluded diving Zambian goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata.
He later played a key role in assuring Chiefs collected maximum points by passing to substitute Phathutshedzo Nange, who netted from close range after 87 minutes.
Four clubs began Sunday with a chance of going second and Chiefs triumphed while Royal AM and Stellenbosch drew their matches and Sekhukhune lost.
A decision is expected on Monday as to whether Chiefs will forfeit or replay fixtures against Cape Town City and Golden Arrows with the Soweto club saying they had insufficient fit players to field teams.
‘Training severely disrupted’
“I thought we were very good in the first half, but our energy levels dipped as the match wore on because training was severely disrupted,” said former Chiefs star Zwane.
“The last 20 minutes were hell with many players cramping and others tiring. I am so proud of our performance tonight.”
Sekhukhune coach MacDonald Makhubedu was furious with his players as the promoted club suffered successive losses for the first time this season.
“They thought we had won the match before it kicked off. It was so untypical of my boys. Instead of effort there was complacency and instead of humility there was arrogance.”
Chiefs won after Royal and Stellenbosch were involved in 0-0 draws, at home against Arrows and away to Maritzburg United respectively.
On Saturday, leading Premiership scorer Peter Shalulile notched his 12th goal this season to earn Sundowns a 1-0 away victory over SuperSport United in a Pretoria derby.
The Namibian latched on to a superb pass from Themba Zwane and fired past goalkeeper Baofeng Pule, deputising for South Africa captain Ronwen Williams who is recovering from coronavirus.
Marumo Gallants continued a climb away from the danger zone with a fourth win in five outings. The team from the northern city of Polokwane beat lowly Swallows 1-0 in Soweto with Ivorian Sede Dion scoring.
Source: Modern Ghana