Benni: Credit must go to Amakhosi

Cape Times - - SPORT - Rod­ney Rein­ers

CAPE TOWN CITY coach Benni McCarthy says, in all the time he’s known Kaizer Chiefs, he’s never seen them sit back as much as they did at Cape Town Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day night. The re­sponse from Chiefs coach Steve Kom­phela was sim­ple and un­equiv­o­cal: “It was de­lib­er­ate.”

The Soweto club’s con­ser­va­tive game plan worked and, de­spite be­ing un­der the cosh for large pe­ri­ods of the match, they emerged as 2-0 vic­tors. They ab­sorbed the pres­sure from the Capeto­ni­ans, and then hit them bru­tally and ef­fec­tively on the counter. It was Amakhosi’s first win of the sea­son – and it was founded on the clever premise of nul­li­fy­ing City’s strengths.

“We needed to be smart (against City). And, im­por­tantly, we didn’t park the bus, we still came out nicely and played,” ex­plained Kom­phela.

“We had the bet­ter dis­ci­pline de­fen­sively. Yes, they got be­hind us at times, but we dealt with it. The de­fend­ers did well and there was also great pro­tec­tion from the mid­field. And when we came out on the counter, we did so flu­ently and fast. But take noth­ing away from City, they push you to the limit.”

McCarthy had six new starters to face Chiefs as he chose to ro­tate the squad af­ter the week­end’s tough MTN8 semi-fi­nal win over Wits. It spoke vol­umes for his faith in his en­tire squad – and, even though they lost, ev­ery player gave his all. It was just un­for­tu­nate that they couldn’t con­vert their dom­i­nance of pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory into goals.

“I think we needed to ro­tate the team,” said McCarthy. “In a job like this, you have to make de­ci­sions. I think los­ing Teko (Modise, to in­jury in the 16th minute) was cru­cial be­cause that meant we didn’t have a player who could find the pass to kill their de­fence.

“But credit to Chiefs, they frus­trated us.

“Their game plan was spot-on, in that they al­lowed us to play and then used their wingers to get be­hind us. Khune (Itume­leng, goal­keeper) was the mas­sive dif­fer­ence be­tween the teams. When you have such a keeper, it makes life so much eas­ier.

“It was like a fu­neral in our dress­ing-room af­ter­wards. But I still think my team can be proud of their per­for­mance. It was an en­ter­tain­ing game of foot­ball, end-to-end stuff. So it’s a loss, and all good things come to an end. Los­ing to Chiefs doesn’t make us a bad team. It’s still early, though, and the de­feat is not the end of the world. Now we just have to see how (we) move on from this. I was gut­ted that the win­ning streak came to an end. The chal­lenge now is to get the play­ers to pick them­selves up and keep go­ing with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.”

For both City and Chiefs, the chal­lenges keep com­ing thick and fast. Kom­phela’s men are back in ac­tion again to­mor­row when they host de­fend­ing league cham­pi­ons Wits, while McCarthy is pre­par­ing his City team for a clash against his for­mer club Or­lando Pi­rates, in Soweto on Tues­day night.

While Kom­phela savoured Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory over City, he ad­mit­ted he was ex­pect­ing a real tough, dif­fi­cult en­counter against the Clever Boys to­mor­row, who have had a night­mare start to the new sea­son.

“This is a bad time to be play­ing Wits. I can imag­ine what Gavin (Hunt, Wits coach) is say­ing to his play­ers – he won’t be bring­ing roses. It’s dif­fi­cult to face them next up,” said Kom­phela.

BENNI MCCARTHY: ‘We needed to ro­tate the team’

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