Kaizer Chiefs edge closer to ending trophy drought

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Famed South African club Kaizer Chiefs edged closer to ending a trophy drought by drawing 2-2 with SuperSport United Sunday in the first leg of an early-season cup semifinal.  The clubs meet again in the MTN8 this Saturday when the Soweto outfit will enjoy home advantage as they seek their first silverware in four seasons.

Chiefs have won 53 domestic trophies since their formation 48 years ago and recent failures to increase that total have seen crowds dwindle alarmingly.

Away goals count double should there be an aggregate stalemate so those scored by Zimbabwean Khama Billiat and Colombian Leonardo Castro for Chiefs could prove especially precious.

Between those goals, Bradley Grobler bagged a brace for title-holders SuperSport to give the Pretoria outfit a 2-1 half-time advantage.

Although Grobler was named man of the match, both coaches hailed Billiat, reportedly the top earner in South African football with a R10 million ($910,000 or 600,000 euros) annual salary.

“Khama is the best footballer in South Africa,” said Giovanni Solinas, the recently hired Italian coach of Chiefs.

Zimbabwe-born SuperSport Coach Kaitano Tembo said, “Khama is a very intelligent footballer and he created a lot of problems for us today.”

On Saturday, Cape Town City, runners-up to SuperSport in the MTN8 last season, built a 1-0 home lead over Mamelodi Sundowns in the other first leg.

A tight tussle that offered few scoring chances was settled by a snap 75th-minute shot from Taariq Fielies after the visitors failed to clear a corner.

“Keeping a clean sheet was important,” said Cape Town coach Benni McCarthy, a former star South Africa striker and a 2004 UEFA Champions League winner with Porto.

Sundowns rested several regulars ahead of a must-win CAF Champions League group game against Horoya of Guinea near Pretoria Tuesday.