Slick City ex­pose flaws in Chiefs

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

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MBOMBELA STA­DIUM: THE peo­ple of Mbombela were treated to a ti­tanic duel wor­thy of a PSL match a week be­fore the 2018/19 sea­son starts, which was quite fit­ting since they won’t see much of that cam­paign in these parts.

Cape Town City, who bought Mpumalanga Black Aces’s fran­chise and re­lo­cated the team, re­turned to their former home and won the Mpumalanga Cul­tural Xpe­ri­ence at the ex­pense of Kaizer Chiefs.

The Cape side worked hard for this vic­tory in a phys­i­cal and in­tense match, traits you wouldn’t nor­mally see in a pre-sea­son friendly, but they were there since this en­counter came a week be­fore both teams start the sea­son with tough matches. Chiefs will visit the reign­ing league cham­pi­ons, Mamelodi Sun­downs, on Satur­day and later that day the Cit­i­zens will host Su­perS­port United.

The Cit­i­zens looked ex­cit­ing and were able to switch up the tempo while Amakhosi looked like they didn’t have much of a plan. The phys­i­cal na­ture of this con­test in­fu­ri­ated both benches with some crunch­ing tack­les fly­ing in as City coun­tered Chiefs’ speed with force.

Kwanda Mn­gonyama was the main in­sti­ga­tor, with Khama Bil­liat the re­cip­i­ent, but Riyaad Noro­dien also re­ceived some rough treat­ment from Chiefs’ left­back Letl­hogonolo Mirwa. Bil­liat even­tu­ally limped off the field just be­fore the hour mark fol­low­ing a tackle from Taariq Fielies.

Pa­trick Mabedi con­tin­ued to lead Amakhosi in the care­taker role he has held since April fol­low­ing Steve Kom­phela’s res­ig­na­tion. Gio­vanni Soli­nas was in the stands, but what Chiefs’ pre-sea­son tour­na­ments have shown is that he will de­ploy a 4-4-2 for­ma­tion and not the 3-4-3 that Steve Kom­phela used dur­ing his time.

While Chiefs play­ers were ea­ger to im­press the new coach, the City’ play­ers were fight­ing to ce­ment their place in the start­ing XI with a cou­ple of spots up for grabs. New goal­keeper Peter Leeuwen­burg started but wasn’t tested much in the first half. The Dutch goal­keeper watched Amakhosi at­tack with pace, but they lacked the killer passes in the box to threaten the Cape side. But when Leeuwen­burg was tested, in the dy­ing min­utes of the game, he pro­duced a bril­liant save to deny Chiefs a goal.

Bil­liat and Leonardo Cas­tro still have good chem­istry but their com­bi­na­tion is not at the level it was when they ter­rorised de­fend­ers as part of the deadly Sun­downs trio which also fea­tured Kea­gan Dolly.

Mabedi kept a tried-andtested for­mula for most of the match while City coach Benni McCarthy ex­per­i­mented with his line-up, mak­ing five changes for the sec­ond half which in­cluded the in­tro­duc­tion of Siphelele Mthembu and Gift Links – chang­ing the for­ma­tion from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. The Cit­i­zens pressed harder after that, and even­tu­ally breached Chiefs’ de­fence. Teko Modise’s set-piece fell into a con­gested box and it fell to Craig Martin, who beat keeper Vir­gil Vries.

City played with more con­fi­dence and en­ergy after that goal, and were over­all the bet­ter team, ex­pos­ing cracks that Chiefs must patch. The in­ten­sity that was on dis­play here, the hunger to win and phys­i­cal na­ture, pre­pared these teams well for the sea­son ahead.

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