CITY won plenty of friends but no silverware as the pre-season tour to South Africa ended in defeat in the Vodacom Challenge final in Pretoria.
The Kaizer Chiefs gained revenge for their midweek defeat to the Blues scoring the only goal of the game through Jeffrey Ntuka in the first half.
There were plusses for the Blues with Gareth Barry impressing and Emmanuel Adebayor and Robinho getting their first action of the build up but there were worrying injuries too.
Young defender Javan Vidal was stretchered off in the first half, skipper Richard Dunne left the fray holding his side after a little more than 30 minutes and Nedum Onuoha suffered a nasty facial cut and had his afternoon cut short.
Boss Mark Hughes rang the changes handing a start to Adebayor four days after his arrival in South Africa and Dunne, Onuoha, Craig Bellamy and Shay Given also got their first starts of the tour. Robinho was on the bench and came on in the second half.
The capital’s famous old stadium was far from full, but once again the South African fans made up for the lack of numbers by creating a cacophony with horns and drums, backed by the requisite PA system turned up to ‘11’ before kick-off.
Adebayor’s first touch in a City shirt was to start the game off, and within 10 minutes his skills were forcing Chiefs defenders to dish out some hefty treatment that had the City bench looking very concerned. This came just after Martin Petrov had needed medical treatment on halfway, but both players were soon back on their feet.
It was not long before City were forced into a change when Javan Vidal collided heavily with the keeper and a defender on 16 minutes. The game stopped for several minutes before the young defender, who had featured in all three games on tour, was stretchered off and replaced at right back by Tal Ben Haim.
Injuries aside it was a fairly flat start to the game other than Chiefs badly miscuing a couple of chances until 24 minutes, when Adebayor and Petrov allowed Barry to tee up a shot on his left foot that went straight at Khune.
A minute later Lebese was through the middle on the edge of the box, but a well-timed challenge from Dunne prevented the Chiefs number 17 from getting a shot on goal.
A dangerous Petrov cross just before the half-hour mark was just in front of Bellamy as the Welsh striker homed in on goal, and SWP was unable to threaten with an attempt at a volley from the far side.
There was another defensive reshuffle on 36 when Dunne, who looked to be holding his side, came off and was replaced by Pablo Zabaleta.
Given pushed a Nhleko shot around his post with three minutes to the break, but this was just the precursor for the Chiefs taking the lead. The resulting corner went all the way over to Jeffrey Ntuka, who tucked the ball home back across the City keeper. The Blues did their best to hit back straight away, with Ben Haim heading a Bellamy corner wide a minute later.
Adebayor wasted City’s best chance of the game so far on 54 minutes after being played in by Barry, the striker cutting onto his left but then blasting the ball over Khune’s bar. Robinho replaced Petrov four minutes later to almost as a big a cheer as when the Chiefs’ goal had gone in.
Chiefs’ skipper Mathebula tested Shay Given with a rasping free kick at the second half’s midpoint, the City keeper getting down to his right to keep the gap at one goal.
City had to make another enforced change with seventeen minutes left when Nedum Onuoha came off with a head injury after he headed the back of a striker’s head. Onuoha was replaced by Vladimir Weiss who proved a big threat.
But the equaliser would not come. Adebayor had a header saved by Khune with 12 minutes to go, and seconds later the Chiefs were close to getting a second, but Nengomasha was denied when Given dived at his feet. Robinho ghosted in off the left flank seconds later but a weak shot drifted harmlessly wide of the left-hand post.
The Brazilian was set up with five minutes to go after Weiss and Adebayor had combined well inside the area, but once again his shot was just off target and the Chiefs lifted the Trophy.
CITY: Given, Vidal (Ben Haim 16), Dunne (Zabaleta 36), Onuoha (Weiss 73), Bridge, Barry, de Jong, Wright-Phillips, Petrov (Robinho 58), Bellamy, Adebayor.
Subs: Taylor, Etuhu, Bojinov.
CHIEFS: Khune, Mmbooi, Jambo, Rooi, Sweswe, Ntuka, Bulu, Mathebula, Nhleko, Yende, Lebese.
Subs: Torrealba, Nahayo, Ngobeni, Sibeko, Zwane, Musona, Molekwane, Dladla, Nengomasha, Masenamela, Masango, Nale.