Baroka FC 0-1 Kaizer Chiefs: Amakhosi close gap on Mamelodi Sundowns
Evidence Makgopa, Baroka FC & Njabulo Blom, Kaizer Chiefs, February 2022
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The Soweto giants needed a late goal from one of their star players to overcome a stubborn Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele side in Polokwane

Kaizer Chiefs boosted their hopes of challenging for this season's PSL title by securing a 1-0 win over Baroka FC in a match which was played at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday night.

Khama Billiat was the hero for the Glamour Boys as the former Zimbabwe international grabbed a goal in stoppage time which inspired the visitors to a narrow win over Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele.

Amakhosi were desperate for a victory as they were winless in 2022 having drawn 0-0 with Cape Town City in their previous game on February 15. Samir Nurkovic made his first start of the year for Chiefs - replacing Bernard Parker in the starting line-up. 

Chiefs were up against a Baroka side that was set up to defend and play on the counter having lost 4-0 to Sekhukhune United last weekend. Defensive midfielders Bennett Bobete, Athenkosi Dlala and Manuel Kambala were deployed just in front of Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele's defence, while Evidence Makopa operated as a lone striker.

With Baroka sitting back and defending too deep, Chiefs dominated possession and they created goalscoring opportunities. Khama Billiat's first-time shot went inches wide of the target after he had combined well with Nurkovic, before Keagan Dolly hit the side-netting.

Phathutshedzo Nange, who was known to be a goalscoring midfielder during his days with Stellenbosch FC and Black Leopards, looked to make the most of the acres of space afforded Amakhosi by the hosts' backline. His fierce shot from range was spectacularly finger-tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.

Chiefs' best chance of the first-half fell for Reeve Frosler, who was bravely denied by Masuluke from close range. Baroka managed to register their first shot on target following a rare attack by the hosts just before half-time and Bobete's low shot was easily saved by keeper Brandon Petersen as the score was 0-0 at half-time.

Amakhosi continued to probe after the restart as they searched for the opening goal with Keagan Dolly having burst into life in the second half. The 2013/14 PSL Young Player of the Season was denied twice by Masuluke at the near post after he had tried his luck from the edge of the hosts' box on both occasions.

Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele were looking to make the most of Makgopa's aerial prowess as long balls and crosses were played into Chiefs' box for the Bafana Bafana international to attack. Makgopa's header went straight into Petersen's hands, before the Baroka striker hit the upright with another header.

Stuart Baxter decided to refresh his attack in the latter stages of the game as the Chiefs coach introduced Leonardo Castro, who was involved in the build-up to Billiat's late winning goal. Sabelo Radebe played a quality cross into the hosts' box after receiving a pass from Castro and Billiat hit the back of the net with a first time shot to seal Chiefs' 1-0 win in stoppage time. 

Therefore, Chiefs moved up to second place on the league standings - reducing leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns' lead to 16 points and they will now face second-placed Orlando Pirates on March 5. Baroka remained 16th on the standings and they are scheduled to take on Marumo Gallants on March 2.