Baroka’s woes continued following their 2-2 draw at home to Kaizer Chiefs in the league. This despite their brave performance which saw them take the game to their Soweto opponents throughout the 90 minutes.
In the build up to the match, Baroka co-coach Kgoloko Thobejane and his captain Olaleng Shaku reminded Chiefs that they had never beaten them in official matches, and their comments somehow played in the minds of Amakhosi players on the night.
As expected, Steve Komphela brought back his tried and tested for this encounter, but left both George Maluleka and Lorenzo Gordinho out of his starting line-up.
Last week’s goalscorer, Gustavo Paez, was relegated to the bench, with Komphela opting for Bernard Parker as a lone striker.
The opening 45 minutes proved that Baroka are not a bad team at all. Actually, the only thing missing in their game is discipline, and had they remained tactically disciplined, they would have easily stunned Chiefs in Polokwane.
Despite conceding a goal six minutes into the game after Eric Mathoho was left alone inside the box for an easy tap-in, the home side responded through Victor Letsoalo, who netted with a stunning strike in the 10th minute.
Baroka should blame themselves for allowing emotions to overwhelm, as they picked up unnecessary yellow cards midway through the first half, before conceding a penalty which Bernard Parker coolly converted on the stroke of half-time.
The second half didn’t produce the same fireworks as in the first 45 minutes, but both sides created enough goalscoring chances to swing the game in their favour.
The quality and experience in the Amakhosi side often proved too much to handle for the Limpopo-based outfit, who struggled to close down their opponents.
Chiefs thought they had the points in the bag as chances were few and far between in the last 15 minutes, but Mxolisi Kunene had other ideas as pulled his side level 10 minutes from time to rescue a crucial point for Baroka.
Komphela would be disappointed with the way his charges gave away the two goals, but the Baroka technical team would draw inspiration from this performance going into their remaining nine league matches.
A frantic start to the first half saw the Glamour Boys open the scoring through Mathoho following a brilliant team move involving Siphiwe Tshablala and Parker on the far side.
Parker’s low cross found Tower alone inside the small box, and the lanky defender guided the ball home, beating goalkeeper Oscarine Masululeke hands down.
Chiefs took their foot off the pedal after scoring that goal, and they were duly punished by Letsoalo whose effort crashed in off the underside of the bar before crossing the line.
Baroka stretched the Amakhosi defense, and forced Willard Katsande to play as a centre-back with Daniel Cardoso often seen on the left hand side where he was covering for Tsepo Masilela.
Chiefs cleverly used Joseph Molangoane’s pace to open up Baroka’s defense, while Edmore Chirambadare played his role on the left hand side.
Baroka sat back and allowed Chiefs to dictate terms in the middle of the park, and paid the price on the stroke of half-time as Shaku was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box, and therefore preventing Masilela from getting his first PSL goal.
Parker stepped up and sent Masuluke the wrong way, much to the delight of the Amakhosi fans out in the stands.
The second half was a bit cagey, but Baroka still showed no respect for Chiefs and looked threatening whenever they had the ball.
Chiefs on the other hand, were more than happy to knock the ball around in midfield, but they utilized their width quite well, especially on the far side where Ramahlwe Mphahlele was playing.
Komphela rang the changes, and introduced William Twala, George Lebese and Gustavo Paez midway through the second half in an attempt to kill off the game. After all, attack is the best form of defense.
Baroka though, didn’t panic. They continued to play according to the coach’s instructions, and they would be rewarded in the 80th minute when Kunene eliminated about three defenders on his way into the box before firing past Itumeleng Khune to make it 2-2.
This was Amakhosi third successive draw in the league, their ninth so far this season. They remain fourth on the standings with 36 points. Chiefs trail leaders Cape Town City by three points with both teams having played the same number of games.
Baroka are rooted at the bottom of the table with 15 points from 21 league games.