GQEBERHA – Siviwe Mpengesi’s relentless appetite to sack his coaches might finally catch up with him this season.
His Chippa United side remained a spot ahead of automatic relegation after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Baroka FC at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Chippa are in a race against time to save their top-flight status, given that they are 15th on the standings with seven games before the curtains come down on their league campaign. They’ve bagged 17 points, four ahead of bottom-placed Black Leopards who have a game in hand.
This, however, was a good outing and result for the visitors Baroka, who made an incredible jump from the bottom half of the standings to eighth with 27 points, three behind the seventh-placed Cape Town City who have a game in hand.
Until last weekend, after reaching the finals of the Nedbank Cup for the first time in their 11 years of existence after the 2-0 victory over Pretoria Callies away in Atteridgeville, Chippa had made headlines for the reasons after Mpengesi continued with his controversial decisions.
The trigger-happy chairman had recently shown coach Dan “Dance” Malesela the exit door for the fourth time at the club after a string of poor results, hoping to replace him with Luc Eymael who’s been labelled a racist after calling the supporters “monkeys and uneducated” in Tanzania.
Eymael who was cleared by the governing body, Fifa, didn’t last for long, though, Mpengesi forced to immediately relieve him off his “technical director” duties after caving to the pressure from the political party the Economic Freedom Fighters in the Eastern Cape and the media.
Eventually that forced Mpengesi to hand over the reins to the young Siyabulela Gwambi. The 33-year-old coach took over his third match against Baroka, at the back of a defeat over Mamelodi Sundowns in the league and that win over Callies in their last outing.
The Chilli Boys, having made only one change to the team which started against Callies – Bienvenu Eva Nga starting ahead of Thabiso Lebitso, had clear intentions of sending more bodies to Bakgakga’s final third in search of an early breakthrough.
But the visitors were resilient in defence, with Denwin Farmer making a well-time tackle to block a pin-point shot from Gregory Damons. The latter, though, nearly picked out Oscarine Masuluke with a dipping corner-kick but the bulky goalkeeper did well to parry the ball away from danger.
But with the progression of the first half, coach Matsimela Thoka’s men started to gain momentum. They were, after all, the fresher of the two teams, given that their last outing was last Thursday, holding Kaizer Chiefs to a 1-all draw in Polokwane in the league.
It was, however, until the 41st minute when Baroka found their breakthrough, Goodman Mosele benefitting from a clumsy clearance from goalkeeper Rashid Watenga who had received a back-pass from centre back Sandile Mthethwa.
The Chilli Boys returned to the second half guns blazing, hoping to find an early equaliser – thanks to the introduction of Kurt Lentjies for Eva Nga during halftime. But the visitors held on in the early stages, parrying away all the forays that Chippa threw at them.
Despite exerting the majority of the pressure for the better part of the half, Baroka were resolute in defence – with Damons having blasted a close-range effort wide off goal. Chippa, though, remained rooted at the bottom, while Baroka climbed up the standings.