Chiefs find the beau­ti­ful game when they least ex­pect it

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - NJABULO NGIDI

LIKE any suitor putting on the charm, Steve Kom­phela promised to bring sexy foot­ball back to Kaizer Chiefs af­ter he was an­nounced as the club’s coach, in his bid to woo Amakhosi fans. But 16 matches into his reign, the out­fit still has a boep from the hang­over of their record-break­ing sea­son.

Chiefs are yet to be pin-up ma­te­rial and have been go­ing on with the des­per­a­tion of those look­ing for beauty in im­plants and bo­tox, with deadly con­se­quences.

That’s where the prob­lem lies; they have been des­per­ately search­ing for beauty in­stead of let­ting it come nat­u­rally be­cause beau­ti­ful foot­ball and suc­cess have called Na­turena home for many years.

Re­cently it has been a vis­i­tor, leav­ing Chiefs when it mat­tered most – in the MTN8 fi­nal and the Soweto derby with arch- ri­vals Or­lando Pi­rates, leav­ing many to ques­tion their big-match tem­per­a­ment.

“I wish one had a mea­sure for that, but clearly based on the fact that we lost both big ones, then it makes you think to say that we need to con­cen­trate more,” Kom­phela said.

“Apart from the re­sult it­self you also look at the per­for­mance, be­cause that’s what should in­spire you and give you a good in­di­ca­tion of where we are. Did we per­form? Not re­ally. Did we get a re­sult? Not re­ally. Then you start work­ing on that. We have to go back and start look­ing at it.”

The soul-search­ing will con­tinue this af­ter­noon when Chiefs take part in Round Two of the Soweto derby. This time it will be in the Telkom Knock­out semi- fi­nal at the same venue, the FNB Sta­dium, where Pi­rates smashed them 3-1 last week. It’s also the same venue where Kom­phela’s Chiefs showed just how beau­ti­ful they can be if they don’t strive for beauty but em­brace it.

The 5-3 win over Maritzburg United in Kom­phela’s first com­pet­i­tive match might have shown frail­ties in their defence, but it also showed their char­ac­ter and at­tack­ing threat.

In most of the matches where Chiefs have shown how good they can be, they have been pro­voked first and then re­acted – be it the 1-1 draw with Bloem­fontein Celtic in the MTN8 or the 4-1 thump­ing of Su­perS­port United and 3-0 vic- tory over Plat­inum Stars to reach the Telkom Knock­out semi-fi­nal.

In con­trast, the Buc­ca­neers have turned up – be it re­fer­ring to show­ing up with solid per­for­mances or the col­lo­quial turn­ing up of a party where they have won in style – in big matches.

That’s be­cause for Eric Tin­kler to im­press Pi­rates man­age­ment he had to do well in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, the only tro­phy miss­ing in the club’s cabi­net, where they have reached the fi­nal. The need to suc­ceed on the big stage has come with side-ef­fects as they have strug­gled in small matches, lack­ing mo­ti­va­tion as they were ex­pected to walk all over the smaller op­po­si­tion.

In big matches they have gone in as un­der­dogs, which makes them play with lots of free­dom as they have noth­ing to lose. The big­gest ex­am­ple of that was, af­ter top­pling African gi­ants Al- Ahly in Egypt, Pi­rates came home and scraped a win over the strug­gling Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria in their Telkom Knock­out opener.

“The chal­lenge that we have is that we are Or­lando Pi­rates,” Tin­kler said. “We are a big club. The teams we play against come highly mo­ti­vated, es­pe­cially when you’ve been suc­cess­ful. Play­ers tend to raise their game against us.

“We need to be able to deal with that, ac­cept that, and mo­ti­vate our­selves to en­sure that we present our­selves the same way with who­ever we play against. We can’t be seen as a team that can only play against the big teams. That shouldn’t hap­pen.”

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