3. Ntshangase makes Chiefs tick
In recent games, the coach has not trusted Ntshangase to play in a central midfield two, and with no flexibility in the formations he uses, there is no other position for him to play. Without him in the side, Chiefs’ build- up play suffers hugely and Chiefs’ central defenders often have to play long passes to Castro. Maluleka is a decent passer, but alongside someone whose dis- tribution is as limited as Katsande’s, an outstanding deep- lying playmaker is needed.
If we look at the respective statistics of the Soweto giants’ four central midfield options, we can see how much extra impact Ntshangase has in the final third, making 19.2% of his passes in that area of the pitch at a highly impressive 80.5% accuracy. Andriamirado Andrianarimanana completed 100% of his passes in the final third, but he makes only 2.1 per game so is barely seen in forward areas – so far at least. Willard Katsande also only makes 3.1 final third passes per game. This is of course not his role, but it shows the reliance on Ntshangase to get the ball into dangerous areas.
What these stats show is that with ‘Stash’ in the team, Chiefs have far more link from defence to midfield to attack when he is on the pitch, whereas Maluleka is excellent at keeping the ball, but with much safer passes. Naturally, with one midfielder pushing into the final third as often as Ntshangase does, Amakhosi are a much more attacking and entertaining team, but can leave themselves open on the counter-attack.