Five months after their last victory in the South African Premiership, Chippa United claimed their first league win, since Zimbabwean coach Norman Mapeza left the club in March, with a 1-0 success over Baroka FC on Saturday evening.
It was also Chippa’s first win in the bio-bubble.
Chippa had last won a league match under Mapeza when they beat Amazulu 1-0 on February 29, this year.
A few days later, the former Warriors skipper and coach, quit the club.
The club hired Rhulani Mokwena who guided them to a goalless draw against Bidvest Wits before the Supa Diski programme was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By the time the programme resumed, Mokwena had gone, becoming the 22nd coach to leave the world’s most chaotic football club.
Chippa then lost 0-1 to Cape Town City and drew 0-0 against Highlands Park before finally securing a victory on Saturday.
Changes either end resulted in a return for Athini Jodwana on the side of Chippa, and an injury scare for Gerald Phiri Junior saw Baroka give Thuso Mogale his second start instead.
The Chilli Boys hit the ground running seven minutes in when Augustine Kwem beat the offside trap to go level with Baroka goalkeeper, Elvis Chipezeze, before applying a composed near post finish.
Baroka expectantly aimed to go level, but experienced another blow on 15 minutes as Bonginkosi Makume was stretchered off for fellow defender Denwin Farmer.
Bakgaga Ba Ga Mphahlele launched numerous openings following the half-hour mark as Mogale ran onto a ball through the middle from Goodman Mosele to fire wide from an awkward angle.
A case of nervousness from Chippa goalkeeper Veli Mothwa almost led Baroka in after fumbling a cross-field ball in stoppage time; however he recovered to gather at the second attempt.
Both sides turned to the bench at halftime, as Phiri Junior and Richard Mbulu set in with Chippa recalling Boikanyo Komane for fellow midfielder Xolani Maholo.
Baroka came close to levelling on 57 minutes after a quick counter-attack from a corner-kick ended with Mbulu, who fluffed his lines in the area.
Phiri Junior gave the Chilli Boys another scare four minutes thereafter with a curling free-kick from the far side on the left, but Mothwa tipped for a corner.
It was all Bakgaga in the closing passages as Evidence Makgopa and Mbulu threatened, but Chippa dropped deep for their first win in the bio-bubble leaving the hosts near the drop zone.
Meanwhile, George Chigova’s Polokwane City moved off the foot of the Absa Premiership table after playing to a 1-1 draw with Highlands Park on Saturday afternoon.
The match featured Zimbabwean goalkeepers at either end.
Tapuwa Kapini, Limbikani Mzava, Bevan Fransman and Peter Shalulile retained their places for Highlands after drawing with Chippa United, while Kabelo Mahlasela was given a start for Polokwane.
Highlands unleashed the first threat at goal inside the 17th minute when Wayde Jooste smacked the gloves of Chigova from the far side of the area following a ball across the danger box.
Rise and Shine could have gone ahead after the half-hour mark, but Njabulo Buthelezi sent a delivery to the left over the target with Kapini out of sight before bringing the Zimbabwean to further work later on.
Polokwane were quick off the mark following the second half as Edgar Manaka skewed narrowly past the left-hand bottom corner following a strike from range.
A double change either side saw Jabulani Maluleke and Walter Musona enter for the hosts on 60 minutes, while Mokeke Mogaila and Mothobi Mvala drifted in for Highlands. — The Herald/Kick-off.