Coach has con­fi­dence in Chiefs spirit

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - FOOT­BALL RE­PORTER FOOT­BALL RE­PORTER MI­NENHLE MKHIZE FOOT­BALL WRITER

KAIZER Chiefs coach Ernst Mid­den­dorp (pic­tured) is con­fi­dent that from what he saw against Mamelodi Sun­downs and Bid­vest Wits his play­ers have the right fight­ing spirit to take them to the group stage of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

Amakhosi take on Zesco United at Levy Mwanawasa Sta­dium on Sun­day in Ndola in the first leg of the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup play­offs. They will host the Zam­bian cham­pi­ons in the re­turn leg at FNB Sta­dium on Saturday next week.

The win­ner will book a place in the group stage of the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, and should Chiefs be vic­to­ri­ous, they would reach the group stage of this tour­na­ment for the first time.

They would also give South Africa three teams in the group stage of con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions in the same year with Or­lando Pi­rates and Sun­downs in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Chiefs’ best run in con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball came in 2001 when they won the African Cup Win­ners’ Cup.

“I have played with Asante Ko­toko in the Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” Mid­den­dorp said. “I have played with Hearts of Oak from Ac­cra, I took them to the group stage (of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup) and they won it later (with­out me in 2004).

“I think that the type of play­ers we have, with the right at­ti­tude, good be­hav­iour and will­ing­ness to do things right makes me con­fi­dent that ab­so­lutely I have the right group of play­ers to go to the group stage with.”

Chiefs have pre­pared well, hav­ing faced the reign­ing Absa Premier­ship cham­pi­ons, Sun­downs, and the fron­trun­ners for the league this sea­son, Wits. Fringe play­ers got a run in a train­ing match against Ger­man side Werder Bre­men on Sun­day.

Sun­downs and Wits tested Chiefs’ re­solve. They passed with fly­ing colours against the Clever Boys, beat­ing them 2-0 in their own back­yard. They showed tac­ti­cal ma­tu­rity against Sun­downs, out­play­ing them be­fore they were let down by a Vir­gil Vries er­ror to lose 2-1.

“We shouldn’t rush and panic against Zesco,” Mid­den­dorp said. “It will be a hec­tic game too, there’s no doubt about it. We have to keep calm and be cool.

“We have to do the right stuff, re­cover in a proper way and then start this game with two or three fresh play­ers. (Wil­lard) Kat­sande will def­i­nitely will be in. Dax (An­dri­ami­rado An­dri­a­na­ri­manana) can be an op­tion. (Siphelele) Nt­shangase is wait­ing. He had a good game against Werder Bre­men on Sun­day.

“These are the op­tions that we have. We will try to man­age our­selves in a proper way, hope­fully we can re­turn with a good re­sult and then man­age the sec­ond game well to be in the group stage.

“That’s our tar­get.” PITSO Mosi­mane has al­ready done the maths in terms of what it will take for his Mamelodi Sun­downs team to ad­vance to the knock­out stage of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League.

Jin­gles is tar­get­ing winning all Sun­downs’ home matches and at least draw­ing two of the three away matches to get 11 points. The first of those away matches is against Nige­ria’s Lobi Stars in Enugu tonight at 6pm.

The Nige­rian side doesn’t have much pedi­gree in con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball com­pared to their op­po­nents who won the Cham­pi­ons League in 2016.

In fact, Stars are the “odd” one out in a group that fea­tures Sun­downs, Wy­dad Casablanca of Morocco and Asec Mi­mosas of Ivory Coast who have all won the con­ti­nent’s premier club com­pe­ti­tion.

“Lobi Stars, for me is a closed book. OK, we know about Lobi Stars as a team but I don’t re­mem­ber look­ing at Lobi Stars as a team play­ing,” Mosi­mane said im­me­di­ately FREE STATE Stars are here to stay in the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL), ac­cord­ing to their new boss, Nikola Kava­zovic.

This af­ter Stars man­aged to get some breath­ing space, fol­low­ing their away 2-1 vic­tory against Mar­itzburg United at Harry Gwala Sta­dium in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg on Wednesday.

Katlego Mokhuoane and Sinethemba Jan­tjie net­ted for Stars while De­olin Mekoa struck back for the Team of Choice.

The win pro­pelled Stars to po­si­tion 13 on the log with 16 points af­ter 17 games.

Speak­ing with the me­dia af­ter the game, Kava­zovic oozed con­fi­dence that Stars would sur­vive the chop come the end of the sea­son.

“Af­ter those two games (against Bid­vest Wits and Mar­itzburg United) I’m pretty sure that we will avoid that (rel­e­ga­tion). I think we can even reach top eight with this qual­ity,” Kava­zovic con­tin­ued.

How­ever, Stars have strug­gled in the league this sea­son af­ter an af­ter the draw. “I don’t see a lot (of) Nige­rian foot­ball lately now that it’s no longer on our screens … But you know Nige­rian teams, they are very phys­i­cal and are big boys. They’re strong. In fact ev­ery­one in our group (is phys­i­cally strong).”

Be­tween the draw and now, Mosi­mane would have dug up enough in­for­ma­tion on the Nige­rian side that he prob­a­bly knows their star player’s blood type, such is the usual thor­ough­ness of his prepa­ra­tion.

Pace and skills

Sun­downs counter their op­po­nents’ phys­i­cal strength with their pace and skills.

Their pint-sized at­tack­ers, like Gas­ton Sirino, use trickery to beat gi­ants who are twice their size. Those at­tributes will come in handy against the Nige­rian side that hasn’t con­ceded a goal at home in their two Cham­pi­ons League matches.

“We need to look af­ter set-pieces – corner kicks and free-kicks be­cause we usu­ally strug­gle with height and physique im­pres­sive 2017/18 sea­son where their ef­forts were crowned with them lift­ing the Ned­bank Cup.

“Sta­tis­ti­cally against Wits we dom­i­nated. Against the ti­tle winning can­di­dates we had 63 per­cent ball pos­ses­sion. We had seven shots on tar­get com­pared to Wits’ three.

“They took three shots and scored two. To­day’s game was dif­fer­ent. There are games where you can do ev­ery­thing but noth­ing goes in that space,” Mosi­mane said. “You don’t want to have to com­pete phys­i­cally with such op­po­nents be­cause South African play­ers’ size isn’t the same as north and west Africans teams.

“We have two west African teams that we have to en­sure that we beat at home.”

Mosi­mane’s three-win and two draw equa­tion has also taken into con­sid­er­a­tion that they might strug­gle to beat Wy­dad, which is why he wants to en­sure that by the time they visit Casablanca in their last group stage match qual­i­fi­ca­tion your way.

“Af­ter so much dom­i­na­tion, I was un­der the im­pres­sion that we could have played three days with­out scor­ing a goal.

“But for­tu­nately we suc­ceed,” he added.

Stars are not play­ing this week­end, and the team has time to re­group and fine tune their skills and game plans. They will face Cape Town City at Cape Town Sta­dium is al­ready guar­an­teed.

That means pick­ing at least four points from Stars with the Sun­downs’ coach con­fi­dent that they can col­lect six points from the Ivo­rians.

This cam­paign for the Brazil­ians is about re­claim­ing their place as one of the big boys in con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball af­ter their poor show­ing last sea­son, crash­ing out of what was an easy group. This one is slightly tougher and will test them.

But as we have seen be­fore, such chal­lenges bring out the best of Mosi­mane’s men. on Wednesday in an Absa Premier­ship tus­sle.

“We are now go­ing to Cape Town with­out any pres­sure. We don’t need points over there. If we take points we would have done a great job be­cause they are in a good shape at the mo­ment. We are go­ing there to en­joy our game.

“Af­ter Cape Town City, we have two games where we have to fin­ish this story about rel­e­ga­tion and fo­cus on reach­ing top eight,” Kava­zovic told the me­dia.

Ac­cord­ing to Kava­zovic Stars will be eye­ing as many points as pos­si­ble in the next few matches.

“I’ve changed a lot of things. I changed good and bad things. Ev­ery­thing is so far giv­ing good re­sults.

“I changed the model of play. I also changed the at­mos­phere in the team. I changed re­la­tions be­tween the coach and the play­ers. I changed the re­la­tions be­tween the coach and the man­age­ment.

“One of the most im­por­tant things I changed was (the) method of train­ing. I changed it to South Africa’s tac­ti­cal pe­ri­odi­s­a­tion,” Kava­zovic said.

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES: Sa­muel Shivambu Back­pagepix

Gas­ton Sirino is just one of Mamelodi Sun­downs’ small but mo­bile play­ers who coach Pitso Mosi­mane hopes will be able to out­ma­noeu­vre their big­ger, stronger Nige­rian op­po­nents, when Sun­downs clash with Lobi Stars in Enugu tonight at 67pm.Pic­ture:

Pic­ture: Gavin Barker Back­pagepix

ON THE UP-AND-UP: Nikola Kava­zovic, coach of Free State Stars is con­fi­dent that his team has turned the corner.

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