The Soweto giants will be cautious when they host ABC Motsepe League side The Magic FC at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow in the last 16.
Chiefs have fallen to minnows before. The most dramatic of those defeats was in 2011 at the hands of Baroka FC, who were an amateur team at the time.
Cardoso, who has played in the amateur ranks and is now on the books of the Soweto giants, has an answer to why Chiefs have struggled against minnows.
“We take it too easy,” Cardoso said. “We’re too relaxed and think that we have arrived. If you look at a few years back, when we lost to Baroka, you wouldn’t expect it from a big team to go down to such a small team. Tornado almost did that a few weeks ago. I think that the players get too relaxed and want to turn the crowd on instead of playing for the team.”
The 30-year-old centre-back knows what will be going through The Magic players’ minds just before taking on Amakhosi in one of the stadiums that hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Flying to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town, as they couldn’t find a venue in the Mother City this weekend, is a big deal for most of the players. Facing Chiefs in an iconic venue will make this even more special.
“They don’t really fly much,” Cardoso said. “You play in your region. For them to come up against Kaizer Chiefs is a cup final for them. If they get past us, they have won the Nedbank Cup. They’re going to go through the roof and celebrate. They’re not going to worry about any other game if they beat us.
"They’re going to showcase what they have. We have contracts, we’re comfortable. They want to get those contracts. So, we can’t be too comfortable on the day and relax.”
Chiefs can’t afford to relax. The Soweto giants are staring at four seasons without a trophy. The Nedbank Cup is their best chance to change that, especially with Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns already out. But it gets tougher because most teams will be out to claim the scalp of the country’s cup kings.
In recent years Amakhosi have lost their royal touch in cup competitions. They went a few steps back under Solinas. Cardoso was critical of the Italian’s tenure.
“I saw in every single game that there would be five, six or seven changes in the line-up, you can’t be consistent like that,” Cardoso said. “You grow in confidence when you’re playing. You play two games and sit out three games. You ask what did I do wrong? And then he’ll tell you he is resting you, protecting you. I think that was an excuse. I don’t think he had much of a plan. We would just sit in the training ground for three hours, running against mannequins. There’s no structure. Now when we go to training there’s energy at training. We’re all over the place. From three hours to an hour and 40 minutes, there’s a big difference.”
Solinas lasted less than five months in Naturena. He was shown the door and was replaced by no-nonsense Ernst Middendorp.
“He gives everyone a fair chance,” Cardoso said. “If you don’t work at training, then you aren’t going to play. He’s proved it. If you’re not going to work for him or the team, you’re going to be dropped and will be sitting in the stands.”
Chiefs’ past struggles against minnows in the Nedbank Cup
2009: University of Pretoria (NFD) 4-3 Chiefs
2010: Chiefs 0-2 FC Cape Town (NFD)
2011: Baroka (Vodacom League, now ABC Motsepe League) 2-1 Chiefs
2015: Chiefs 1-2 Black Leopards (NFD)