Kaizer Chiefs’ miserable domestic season at least ended on a positive note on Saturday afternoon, as they defeated TS Galaxy 1-0 at Mbombela Stadium to secure an eighth-place finish in the DStv Premiership.
The Amakhosi leapfrogged the Rockets on goal difference thanks to the result, ensuring that they will play in the MTN8 next season at the expense of their vanquished opponents, who came home in a very respectable ninth place in their rookie top-flight campaign.
Galaxy settled the quicker of the two teams and Masilake Phohlongo forced a sharp save from Chiefs goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma with a left-footed drive in the seventh minute.
The Rockets were able to find pockets of space for the likes of Phohlongo and Lindokuhle Mbatha to operate in, but Mxolisi Machupu was not given the necessary service to threaten Chiefs’ goal and capitalise on a strong opening quarter hour from the home team.
The Amakhosi took their time to settle into a rhythm, but gradually began to assert themselves and claimed the lead on 26 minutes. A long throw-in from Reeve Frosler was flicked on before Samir Nurkovic glanced home from close range to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Galaxy’s only real chance in the remainder of the first half arrived in the 40th minute when Machupu got on the end of Luckyboy Mokoena’s cross and powered a header on target, but Bvuma was well positioned to make a comfortable save and ensure the Soweto side held the advantage at the interval.
Galaxy stiffened up their midfield with the introduction of Mlungisi Mbunjana at the start of the second stanza, and the hosts had renewed energy in the early minutes, forcing Chiefs onto the back foot.
Yet they were unable to capitalise on the momentum and were even lucky not to concede a penalty just after the hour mark, with Mokoena clumsily bringing down Lebogang Manyama near the by-line but not being punished by the referee.
Chiefs should have claimed a second goal and made the game safe in the 81st minute when Nurkovic unselfishly squared for Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, but the ball was just behind the youngster, who had an open goal in front of him.
On 88 minutes Galaxy’s Sihle Ndluli was given time and space to line up a shot – his effort was well struck and on target, but Bvuma did well to get across and turn the ball away for a corner kick. That proved to be the last scare for Chiefs, who were able to hold out in the remaining time and secure a key victory.
TS Galaxy 0
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Nurkovic 26’)
Galaxy: Van der Linde, Sanoka, Modisane, Mahlangu (Fransman 90’), Mokoena (Mogaila 70’), Nduli, Brooks (Mbunjana 46’), Ndlovu (Aubaas 90’), Mbatha, Phohlongo (Lekay 78’), Machupu
Chiefs: Bvuma, Frosler, Mathoho, Cardoso, Zulu (Sasman 71’), Manyama, Katsande, Ngcobo, Parker, Castro (Blom 79’), Nurkovic©