Kaizer Chiefs hit back to overcome Wits University 2-1 today and complete a stellar semi-finals line-up in the lucrative South African Top 8 Cup. They will join greatest rivals Orlando Pirates, Pretoria-based Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town tomorrow in the draw for the two-leg semi-finals in the season-opening competition.
A final between Chiefs and Pirates would be a mouthwatering prospect as South African football followers cannot get enough Soweto derbies. There were two during the pre-season and Pirates won both, with media concerns of 'overkill' proving unfounded as tens of thousands packed stadiums in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.
Wits, an unfashionable Johannesburg club coached by former South Africa goalkeeper Roger de Sa, left the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium cursing their failure to convert first-half territorial dominance into goals. Chiefs improved in the second half and created the more clearcut chances as the 'Clever Boys' tired on a mild late winter evening in a stadium where Spain lifted the World Cup for the first time last year.
"We were really lucky not to be behind at half-time as Wits missed several good scoring opportunities, but we controlled the second half and I expect the team to perform much better in the semi-finals," said Chiefs' Serb coach Vladimir Vermezovic.
De Sa said: "Wits should have been three or four goals ahead by the break. Although we let ourselves down in the final third of the pitch it was an encouraging start to the season."
Sboniso Gumede headed Wits in front on 11 minutes after a corner, but Bernard Parker levelled by sending new signing Emille Baron the wrong way from a penalty before Mandla Masango punished sloppy defending to snatch the 41st-minute winner.
The weekend quarter-finals began with a goal deluge as Ajax defeated SuperSport United 5-2 before Sundowns edged Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 and Pirates won by the same score against Santos after extra time.