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Watch out for Kaizer Chiefs this season: that was the message as slumbering Amakhosi sprang into action like a punch-drunk boxer finding second wind in an imperfect but  at times inspired 2-1 win over Baroka FC on Wednesday.

Chiefs were excellent in the first half, taking control with goals from Khama Billiat nine minutes in, and a second by Daniel Cardoso 18 minutes later.

Denwin Farmer’s 59th-minute strike pulled one back for Baroka which made for a nervy close for Chiefs, whose new coach Stuart Baxter knows he still has plenty of work to do shoring up his defence. But Amakhosi withstood a late surge from dangerous Baroka for a happy ending.

One of Chiefs’ new signings, Keagan Dolly, started on the right and showed his class sparking a first-half performance that would have brought memories of past glory days.

Dolly’s buzzing presence sparked Billiat back to life.  

Amakhosi took the lead in a fashion that would have made their fans at home sit up and take notice. Manuel Kambala slipped to give  the ball away, allowing Phathutshedzo Nange to feed the run of right-back Njabulo Blom, via Dolly’s dummy, to hit the ball in low, with Billiat directing a crisp first-time finish into the top-left corner.

Baroka showed their danger when Evidence Makgopa expertly teed up Tshepo Mokhabi on the right, whose ball curled back in and was headed onto the upright by Richard Mbulu.

Chiefs’s new-look combination then found their groove. Cole Alexander, showing how threateningly he can probe, fed Sifiso Hlanti down the left.  The cross fell a bit low for Cardoso, hanging upfront after a corner, and the centreback directed a looping header past Masuluke.

Dolly played Billiat through but his attempt went wide. Alexander fed Billiat for a carbon copy of that miss in injury time.

For all Chiefs’ dominance in the opening half, and coming out consolidating and cautiously probing in the second, 2-0 is a dangerous lead, especially for a team still far from stable in defence.

The corner from the left of Nhlanhla Mgaga, one of three halftime substitutes from Baroka coach Matsemela Thoka, fell to another of those replacements, Farmer, free on the left to crack a low volley past Bruce Bvuma.

For a new combination such a setback could easily have led to a further capitulation. But Chiefs closed the game impressively.

Ananias Gebhardt of Baroka is challenged by Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs during the match between Kaizer Chiefs and Baroka FC at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, August 25 2021. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX
Ananias Gebhardt of Baroka is challenged by Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs during the match between Kaizer Chiefs and Baroka FC at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, August 25 2021. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX
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