CHIEFS’ KILLER COMBOS
7-page tribute to Amakhosi’s heroes
QUALITY KEEPERS Itumeleng Khune
Itumeleng Khune once again proven his worth despite missing out on five months of their season. The Bafana Bafana goalkeeper has kept 13 clean sheets in 16 appearances, with an incredible nine of those in 10 League matches. Khune conceded his only Absa Premiership goal in their 2-1 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces, which was that thunderous volley off Aubrey Ngoma’s left boot.
Stepping in when Khune underwent ankle surgery in September, Khuzwayo played with great self-assurance and poise through to February. He also ensured Chiefs bagged the MTN 8 trophy, making his season debut in the big Soweto Derby final. He managed eight clean sheets in 15 starts, and helped Chiefs maintain their unbeaten run up to his final appearance against SuperSport United on 17 February.
The young Nike Chance graduate, who previously played for Irish side Shamrock Rovers, made one start and one substitute appearance in the League for Chiefs and three cup appearances. ‘Razor’s’ presence confirms Amakhosi have the best goalkeeping department in the Premiership.
EXPERT OPINION: BRIAN BALOYI “It’s not often a team challenging for the League, let alone going on to winning it, has the luxury of fielding three different goalkeepers. They’ve all been together for a while now, and so you can understand their relationships and competition between them is healthy. They looked like they could still equal the record for least number of goals conceded … the record was set in 2003/04, and Chiefs have conceded 11 so far, and they’ve all had a part to play in that. The only area in which Chiefs need reinforcements is the striking department.” * Brian Baloyi played over 340 matches for Chiefs and was a member of their championship-winning team of 2003/04 that conceded just 11 goals.
TOWERING DEFENCE Siboniso Gaxa
The former Bafana Bafana right-back has started every single League match up to and including the 1-0 win over the University of Pretoria, an ever-present in a dominant quartet alongside Tefu Mashamaite, Mulomowandau Mathoho and Tsepo Masilela. The 31-year-old reached a milestone in his career, making his 300th start in the top tier of South African football this season.
His contribution has not gone unnoticed this season, with ‘Masha’ taking over the captaincy in Khune’s absence, and keeping the armband for the remainder of the campaign. Like Gaxa, an ever-present in the League so far this season, the 30-yearold centre-back amazingly avoided a single caution until he was booked in his 25th League match, against AmaZulu recently – proof of his discipline and quality as a defender. Mashamaite’s two League goals were crucial – the winner against Ajax Cape Town and an equaliser against Platinum Stars in December, which helped the team amass a 15-point lead by the Christmas recess.
Our January cover star has enjoyed a great season, breaking into the national team and forming a partnership with Mashamaite that accounted for 15 of the 17 clean sheets achieved in the League so far this season. Has made 20 Premiership starts, and like his partner, has only received one yellow card.
An unsung hero, former Bafana Bafana left-back Masilela has enjoyed a vintage campaign, starting 24 Premiership Matches so far. Importantly, the two matches he missed – against SuperSport United and Maritzburg United – were the only two League defeats suffered by Chiefs.
A three-time Premiership league champion with SuperSport United, the vastly experienced defensive hard-man saw limited game-time this season, but he was Stuart Baxter’s go-to-guy in emergency, and has made eight Premier Premiership starts plus five substitute appeara appearances.
TheTh 25-year-old right-back made oneon start – in the defeat against MaritzburgM United when he was in forfo the suspended Tsepo Masilela. MolekoM also made a couple ofo substitute appearances and featuredfe in seven cup matches.
EXPERTEX OPINION: FABIAN MCCARTHY This back four reminds me of our back four – David Kannem Kannemeyer, Patrick Mabedi, Cyril Nzama and myself – from th the 2003/04 season. The most impressive player in the Ka Kaizer Chiefs defence this season has been Tefu Masham Mashamaite, and he and Tsepo Masilela have been the club’s most consistent performers. Mashamaite’s experienc experience and communication has helped a lot. But credit mus must also go to the goalkeepers and Willard Katsande, who form part of the defence. * Fabian M McCarthy was a regular in Chiefs’ title-winning sides of 2003/04 and 2004/05.
MIDFIELD MASTERY Willard Katsande
‘Salt & Vinegar’, as the player known, has been pivotal in the holding midfield position – 15 of Chiefs’ 17 clean sheets have come with Katsande in the side. He also improved on his disciplinary record, collecting only two yellow cards in 23 League appearances so far. He is happy to do the gritty work in the engine-room, accepting that his role is “win every ball … break down the opposition attacks so that we can attack … give cover to my back four as well as my forward players, to give them balance when they’re going forward”.
‘Yeye’ missed just two matches out of the 26 played up to and including the Tuks victory, one of them the 2-0 loss to SuperSport United in February, when he was suspended for accumulating four yellow cards. His obvious experience in that box-to-box role in Baxter’s midfield was important, as were his five goals in Chiefs’ first nine League matches, which laid the foundation for a great season.
In 20 League appearances, ‘Geeza’ has scored six goals and weighed in with six assists, making this a muchimproved contribution to his previous two seasons. Combined with Maluleke and Masango to form an attacking trio dubbed ‘MaLeMa’ by the fans as Chiefs roared to the top of the table in August.
The former SuperSport United man endured a stop-start season with his opening eight matches being his longest run of games, but the combination with Lebese and Masango in this phase of the season provided a platform for a victorious campaign. Despite his lack of goals, Maluleka has provided numerous key passes in the creation of goals scored by teammates.
The Premiership Player of the Month for August, Masango started the season like a house on fire, scoring four goals in his first six appearances. All told, he has made League 17 starts so far this season after being a bit-part player in Amakhosi’s previous two seasons.
A slow start to the season meant ‘Shabba’ watched as the “MaLeMa” trio catapulted Chiefs to the summit of the Premiership standings. The former Bafana star returned to the starting line-up against Ajax on 19 October and has since scored three goals in his 17 starts this season, and has again been Chiefs top source of assists – ten so far.
The 23-year-old Ugandan central defender was kept out of the reckoning by the stellar combination of Mashamaite and Mathoho, but Bukenya was able to come in as a defensive midfielder, and boasts an unbeaten record in his six League appearances, three of which were starts.
One goal in three starts in the League this season meant it was a subdued Nkosi who looked on from the bench during most matches. His 52nd minute goal against Free State Stars on December 16 will go down as a noteworthy contribution, however.
EXPERT OPINION: STANTON FREDERICKS For me, Willard Katsande is the unsung hero in the Chiefs midfield. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he is a defensive midfielder and does not have an attractive role. ‘Yeye’ has also been excellent, complimenting Katsande in defence but also going forward with menace; he’s one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the country. That combination is a definite League-wining combo. Lebese and Masango also formed a good partnership on the wings, with the one complimenting the other, and they remind me a lot of Jabu [Mahlangu] and myself. Maluleka has also come to the party, as a box-to-box midfielder he is the new Letsholonyane. And ‘Shabba’ has come back and answered his critics, because people had started writing him off.” * Stanton ‘Stiga’ Fredericks was a member of the Chiefs side that won the League in 2003/04 with 63 points.
THE ATTACK Bernard Parker
Parker missed out on the start of the season as he recovered from ankle surgery and has managed just 17 starts and five substitute appearances, scoring five goals and providing as many assists. Parker remains virtually irreplaceable in the Chiefs line-up as his creative role up-front is yet to be replicated by any of the other strikers.
One start and 13 substitute appearances sums up Mthembu’s contribution following his transfer from Platinum Stars at the beginning of the season. And though his only League start came in the 1-0 defeat to Maritzburg United in February, he did
come off the bench to score in the 2-0 Soweto Derby victory over Orlando Pirates – and that always counts for something.
‘Killer’ has struggled to break into Baxter’s side all season, struggling with injuries and his fitness. The former Bafana striker finally got a run in the league, starting in the 3-0 win over Moroka Swallows in midMarch and also the wins over AmaZulu and AmaTuks, but failed to get his name on the score-sheet.
Baxter turned to the Zimbabwean striker in an attempt to fill the void left by Kingston Nkhatha, but two starts and six substitute appearances in the League, and no goals suggest he failed to produce.
Despite his high-profile move from Chippa United in January, Zulu failed to impress Baxter enough to earn a place in the starting line-up, getting just two run-outs as a substitute in February.
Victim of the boo-boys, Nkhatha was missed after he moved to SuperSport United in January. He had made 15 starts and two substitute appearances before the Christmas recess, scoring just two goals, but the hard-working front-runner was central to Baxter’s game-plan and his teammates missed his menacing runs upon the resumption of League football. It must have been particularly galling to the boo-boys that Chiefs’ first defeat of the season came against Nkhatha and his new teammates.
EXPERT OPINION: SHAUN BARTLETT I know people say it’s not how you start but how you finish, but Chiefs have proved how important the start is! Since January they have missed Kingston Nkhatha’s presence up front, and Baxter has even had to convert Matthew Rusike into that role. Parker has had a bit of a stop-start season with injury, but he’s still been key in the team when he’s featured. Even if he does not score, just his presence on the field and experience lifts his teammates and gives the opportunity for other players to get into those goalscoring positions. Mthembu has not quite adapted to the pressure that comes with moving to a big team like Kaizer Chiefs. * Golden Arrows coach Shaun Bartlett returned from a successful career abroad to play for Chiefs between 2006 and 2008.