MTN8: Losing start for Zim players

Two games, but no joy for Zimbabwean players. Only four of the eligible nine Zimbabwean stars played in the semi-finals of South Africa’s MTN8 trophy at the weekend – all ending on the losing side.

Nengomasha - cost his side the third goal
Nengomasha – cost his side the third goal

Defending league and Nedbank Cup champions Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits University- each with five Zimbabweans in their ranks (although Bhasera was ineligible for Wits) lost the first leg of the R8 million tournament.

Chiefs were edged 0-1 at home to biggest rivals Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, while Wits lost 4-2 away to league and Nedbank Cup runners-up, Platinum Stars at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium the following day. Only defensive midfielders Willard Katsande (Chiefs) and Tinashe Nengomasha (Wits) started for their clubs, but their contribution did little to swing the game in their favour. Nengomasha had the misfortune of committing an error that cost his club the third goal on 72 minutes.

The veteran Zimbabwean midfielder was attempting to clear in his own penalty-box, but stood on the ball and fell to the ground, allowing Siphelele Mthembu a clear run on goal to score. Knowledge Musona and Kingstone Nkhatha came in as second half substitutes for Chiefs, who dominated Pirates for the better part of the game, although they could not turn their possession into goals.

All is not lost for the Zimbabweans though, as they still have the return leg towards the end of this month to turn the tables around. For Chiefs, coach Stuart Baxter believes that can still happen, as the Briton firmly believes his charges would be ready for the return leg. “We have to go lick our wounds and sharpen our knives and get ready for the second leg,” said Baxter.

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