Are Kaizer Chiefs in possession of a tactical vaccine for North African teams?

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The juicy encounter between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly tonight in Casablanca, Morocco, has started an interesting debate on its outcome.

A lot of discussion and permutations has engulfed pundits, technicians and football scholars, in terms of the tactical approaches, technical superiority and mental fortitude expected for a game of this magnitude.

Ahly are the defending champions after annexing the title in 2020 against their perennial arch-rivals Zamalek. As perfect serial winners of the CAF Champions League, they have demonstrated a compounding ability to win at all costs, and play matches according to the occasion.

The Red Devils demolition of Esperance in the semifinals, cement their superiority and tactical adaptation to play smart and deliver a devastating punch when required. The presence of the “Master Tactician” Pitso Mosimane further underline the immense experience and appetite to clinch titles.

As for Chiefs, no one saw this one coming, including the players themselves, amid a rather turbulent season. They qualified into the top eight on the last day of the league, a far cry from the ones mighty club of legions of supporters. They also fired the under-performing Gavin Hunt, who played a role in them achieving this historic feat.

But, it is the manner in which they eliminated another serial winner, Wydad Casablanca (WAC) that caught the tactical attention of FARPost’s Technical Study Group. WAC comes from North Africa and have similar tactical DNA to Al Ahly, Esperance, JS Kabyile, Zamalek and ES Setif to name a few. The teams exhibit the following technical-tactical attributes:
• Structured tactical ploy
• Expected technical applications
• Physical ingredients embedded in their tactical plan
• Mental intimidation, also engulfed in the tactical maneuver

It is the writer’s assertion that WAC applied wing play, use of overload in the lateral corridors, application of diagonal balls and crosses in the Chiefs penalty area. They lacked individuals capable of dribbling through the deep defensive block generated by Amakhosi, failed to apply joint 1-2 combinations and were incapable of varying their tactics in the two legs.

A deep defensive block, justifiable close distance in the third zone, dealing with diagonal balls and crosses and a steady communication between the Chiefs last defensive line and their goalkeepers (Bruce Bvuma and Daniel Akpeyi) was a perfect semifinal tactical vaccine applied by Chiefs against WAC.

Al Ahly are a different club to WAC, but their approach and technical artillery are similar to WAC. The analysis of the Ahly games, goals and overall style, suggest they are no different to their counterparts in North Africa. Maybe, and just maybe, Chiefs could have found a tactical vaccine against these North African teams.

This tactical vaccine has the following composition:
• Organised defensive style
• Controlled distance between the midfield-defensive lines
• Compact distances (approximately 7-10 metres) between players in the defensive line.
• Clever tactical screening (varying numbers)
• Opening the lateral zone and doubling marking
• Dealing with high balls in the box (including crosses)
• Perfect communication between the defensive line and the goalkeeper

As for how long this tactical immunity will be sustained and delivered accordingly, to all the North African teams, will be tested in the CAF Champions League final, where Al Ahly will be the receipients. Provided the conditions remain the same, Chiefs might be required to deliver the right dose of the tactical football vaccine in Casablanca.

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By FARPost’s Technical Study Group