Kaizer Chiefs’s 2019/2020 campaign was meant to be a big celebration.
With the club turning 50 on 7 January 2020, the ‘Glamour Boys’ have been hoping to bring home some silverware to dust off their trophy cabinet after five years of drought.
Having failed to qualify for the MTN8, Chiefs had three trophies to fight for this season.
It wasn’t to be in the Telkom Knockout as they were beaten 2-1 by Maritzburg United in the semifinals.
Chiefs had no better luck in the Nedbank Cup, losing 5-4 on penalties to Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium at the weekend.
Now the Absa Premiership remains and with Chiefs top of the log – four points ahead of second placed Mamelodi Sundowns – there’s a glimmer of hope for Kaizer Motaung’s club.
But the pressure is mounting with the next match being against rivals Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Chiefs now need players with real character to stand up and put up a fight to ensure they finish on top by the end of the season.
FARPost picks seven players that have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to help the team win the Absa Premiership race…
Itumeleng Khune (goalkeeper)
There are those that have backed Nigerian international Daniel Akpeyi to continue and admittedly, he’s not done much wrong as Chiefs’s number 1 this season. The reality, however, seems to be that Khune has the backing of most Amakhosi supporters.
Khune’s experience is unmatched among the Chiefs goalkeepers. There are also elements of his game that are crucial, especially his ball distribution. Like Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt previously said, Khune is the type of keeper that can save a team a lot of points and with his crucial saves, it could be the right time to keep him between the poles.
Mulomowandau Mathoho (defender)
From a defence point of view, he’s important. From an attack point of view, ‘Tower’ is equally important. As much as he defends Chiefs’s goals, he also goes up often for set pieces and that’s why he’s able to get on the end of some balls and get a goal now and then. Mathoho – with his energy- is the type of player Chiefs need at the moment to keep fighting for the title.
Lebogang Manyama (attacking midfielder)
Chiefs have relied a lot of set pieces this season and there are question marks whether other teams have figured this out and are able to stop Chiefs. It is, however, an element of their game that they are not willing to simply discard, at least according to defender Reeve Frosler.
“Well, I think, at this point, a lot of teams know what the opposition has got up its sleeve. It’s just that we’ve got to take our strengths and make them even stronger, and whatever that comes across as a weakness, we got to turn that into a strength,” Frosler told the media last week. Manyama’s crosses have proved crucial until this point.
George Maluleka (midfielder)
He’s fared better this season compared to the previous seasons and he’d be keen to finish strongly, especially because this would help Chiefs win the coveted Absa Premiership title. It’s easier said than done of course, but a player of Maluleka’s experience would certainly know that and would be one of the players that push others in the team to get the job done.
Kearyn Baccus (midfielder)
When he’s not starting, Chiefs fans question his omission and probably rightly so, because Baccus is a player who has shown great potential taking the game from midfield. The 28-year-old has played 17 matches across all competitions and he could be key in the remaining League matches.
Leonardo Castro (striker)
It’s the Colombian’s fighting that sets him apart. Probably a problem that has been created is that his contract expires at the end of June and rumour has it that he may leave the club. Castro, however, has shown that he’s a professional and has continued to fight hard for the team. It’s that sort of attitude that Chiefs need from him (and other players) to shake off competition from the chasing pack including Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.
Samir Nurkovic (striker)
What a fighter!!! Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has been on record saying SA players can learn from Nurkovic in terms of his fighting spirit. It’s critical that the Serbian continues to show the same fighting spirit to help keep Chiefs on top of the Absa Premiership standings.
CHIEFS’S NEXT FIVE LEAGUE GAMES…
v Orlando Pirates (February 29, FNB Stadium)
v AmaZulu (March 7, FNB Stadium)
v Bidvest Wits (March 18, FNB Stadium)
v Polokwane City (March 21, Peter Mokaba Stadium)
v Bloemfontein Celtic (April 5, Dr Molemela Stadium)
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa