7-page trib­ute to Amakhosi’s he­roes

Kick Off - - Front Page - BY CHAD KLATE

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.

Bril­liant Khuzwayo

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.

Reyaad Pi­eterse

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.

Tefu Mashamaite

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.

Mu­lo­mowan­dau Mathoho

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.

Tsepo Masilela

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.

Mor­gan Gould

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.

Kgotso Moleko

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”.

Reneilwe Let­sholonyane

‘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.

Ge­orge Lebese

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.

Ge­orge Maluleka

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.

Mandla Masango

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.

Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala

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.

Ivan Bukenya

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.

Siyabonga Nkosi

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.

Siphelele Mthembu

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.

Katlego Mphela

‘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.

Matthew Rusike

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.

David Zulu

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.

Kingston Nkhatha

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.

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