Debutant Adebayor fails to inspire
New signing Emmanuel Adebayor failed to inspire Manchester City as the Barclays Premier League side slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria. More than 30,000 fans turned up at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, but were let down by a below-par City, who concluded an unsatisfying tour of South Africa, having lost two and won one match in the Vodacom Challenge tournament.
In the end it was Jeffrey Ntuka's effort minutes before half-time that proved the difference between the two sides. Former Arsenal striker Adebayor, one of City's biggest summer signings, was handed a first start by Mark Hughes, while new-boy Gareth Barry played alongside the likes of Shay Given, Nigel de Jong, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Craig Bellamy.
After a quiet start, Martin Petrov and Adebayor were each on the wrong end of clattering challenges from the Chiefs during the opening 14 minutes, but survived to play on. City youngster Javan Vidal, a product of the club's academy, was not so fortunate and was forced off the field after 20 minutes following a collision with Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, with Tal Ben-Haim coming on in his place.
Barry had the first real chance for his side after a good cross from the left touchline by the lively Petrov, but his 18-yard shot just short of the half-hour mark was straight at the Chiefs goalkeeper. The visitors then made a change shortly before the break replacing Richard Dunne with Pablo Zabaleta, as the City captain aggravated a knee injury.
In front of goal, all the signs looked encouraging with Petrov, Adebayor and Bellamy linking up nicely, but it was visiting goalkeeper Given that was forced to make the first real save. Nkosinathi Nhleko's shot in the 41st minute required the Republic of Ireland international to dive low to his left to tip the ball wide. The resulting corner from George Lebese caused panic in the penalty area and Ntuka drove the ball home from close-range to hand his side a half-time lead.
City kept the same players on after the restart and Adebayor's clever run ten minutes in almost paid dividends but, after having his cross-goal pass come back into his path, the Togo striker blazed over when he should have hit the target. Three minutes later, newly-married Robinho was thrown on for Petrov, but he too failed to inspire the Eastlands club, with even half chances proving few and far between.
With 25 minutes to play, a head injury brought Nedum Onuoha's match to an end, with Vladimir Weiss coming on in his place. And the Slovak winger almost helped his side snatch a late goal when his mazy run down the right ended with him feeding the ball to Robinho, who somehow dragged his shot wide as the game ended in disappointment for the visitors.