Can Chiefs carry their pre-sea­son form for­ward?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

there’s not much pres­sure on the teams. The play­ers play with­out fear of los­ing and they can ex­press them­selves more freely than in nor­mal in-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion.”

Khan though, hav­ing watched Chiefs get the bet­ter of Botswana’s Town­ship Rollers 2-0 (Gus­tavo Paez scored both goals) and then beat­ing Free State Stars 1-0 cour­tesy of a late Ge­orge Lebese strike to cap­ture the ti­tle, be­lieves Amakhosi are look­ing good for a win­ning sea­son.

“Af­ter two sea­sons of no sil­ver­ware it will be a huge dis­as­ter if they don’t win any­thing in the com­ing one. Yet even though they had two bad sea­sons, the re­al­ity is that Chiefs have a qual­ity squad good enough to chal­lenge for ti­tles. That’s why they’ve not gone into the mar­ket in a big way be­cause there’s noth­ing bet­ter than what they al­ready have.”

That Chiefs have not suc­ceeded is a mys­tery Khan says only they can solve. But af­ter the week­end, the man who once sat on the Amakhosi bench as as­sis­tant is in no doubt that his for­mer club is good for some hon­ours.

“The in­gre­di­ents are there, they should just turn them into a win­ning for­mula. Ob­vi­ously Steve (Kom­phela, the coach) will be un­der tremen­dous pres­sure. And the best for him would be to keep a cool and calm head which is where the play­ers will de­rive their con­fi­dence from – his be­hav­iour.

“He will have to find the right bal­ance between play­ing the pres­sure down and hyp­ing it up. One thing he has done a lot of in the past is to pro­tect the play­ers, but I be­lieve he also needs to tell them when they are let­ting the team down. How he man­ages that team will de­ter­mine their sea­son. He is go­ing to have to man­age the process of get­ting the play­ers to be con­sis­tent, that for me is the big test for Steve and Chiefs in the com­ing sea­son. No doubt the qual­ity is there, but can they show it on the pitch con­sis­tently?”

Khan high­lighted the fact that Chiefs have ar­guably the best de­fen­sive unit in the league, with goal­keeper Itumeleng Khune the coun­try’s best and three of the back four all cur­rent Bafana in­ter­na­tion­als, with the left­back a highly ex­pe­ri­enced for­mer na­tional team player.

“It would have been very en­cour­ag­ing for fans to see Ge­orge Lebese up­ping his game be­cause he will def­i­nitely add value. Af­ter all Chiefs have his­tor­i­cally al­ways re­lied on charis­matic cre­ative play­ers with great flair like he has, think of Ace Nt­soe­len­goe and Doc­tor Khu­malo in the past.

“And then they have Shabba (Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala) who seems to be get­ting bet­ter with age. Wil­lard Kat­sande is Zim­babwe’s best mid­fielder and he too looks like he will con­tinue go­ing strong. And on the wings Tlou Molek­wane and Pa­trick Th­wala will pro­vide the speed.”

The source of goals will be ei­ther of Gus­tavo Paez and Bernard Parker.

“Paez showed with those two goals he scored against Rollers that he is go­ing to be a key player for them with his abil­ity to ex­ploit the spa­ces be­hind de­fences, and Parker was re­ally good even though he didn’t score. His ex­pe­ri­ence will come in very handy for Chiefs.”

Add to all that a few young play­ers ea­ger to im­press, and Khan be­lieves Chiefs have the mak­ings of a cham­pi­onship­win­ning squad. And he is not sim­ply just bas­ing his views on what he saw at the Bokone Bophir­ima Maize Cup. In any case, “pre sea­son tour­na­ment form can be de­ceiv­ing”.

“The one thing Chiefs should have go­ing for them is that they won’t be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion like the other top clubs.”

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