"I don’t think that this is the time to panic." Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
"I don’t think that this is the time to panic." Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Manyama: Pirates know how dangerous Chiefs can be

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Feb 29, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - It is appearing as though Kaizer Chiefs have been experiencing difficulties in their bid to consolidate their top of the table spot in recent weeks, but midfielder Lebogang Manyama is not fazed, saying they can’t turn into a bad team overnight.

Having endured a poor ending last season, finishing ninth in the Premiership standings and losing in the Nedbank Cup final to minnows TS Galaxy, Chiefs had their back against the wall this campaign. They were forced to compete on all fronts this season in an effort to end their four-year trophy drought.

After missing out on continental football and the MTN8 cup competition, Chiefs’ league campaign progressed in an impressive fashion in the first half of the season - topping the league table, with their only blemishes being one loss and two draws.

In the final stretch of the season, Amakhosi have been a shadow of themselves - winning one match, losing one and drawing one in the last three league matches.

That unconvincing run has seen fellow title contenders, notably Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, close in at the top.

Chiefs, though, will get a chance to prove that they were not merely holding the umbrella at the top for either of their rivals when they clash with Pirates in the 50th anniversary of the Soweto derby, at the Calabash this afternoon (3.30pm kick-off).

“Last year between September and November, I think we didn’t lose in 11 games. Now eventually we lost two games in a row and I think we played our best game in the league against Maritzburg United but we couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. But that’s how football is,” Manyama said.

“But I don’t think that this is the time to panic. Obviously, there’s going to be outside noise but we don’t let that come between us - it doesn’t worry us. It’s a matter of trying to get better and better in the next game.”

While this top of the table clash will pit two German coaches against each other - Chiefs’ Ernst Middendorp and Pirates’ Josef Zinnbauer, who are at the peak and pioneering stages of their PSL careers, there’s more at stake as the victors could very well set the tone for the rest of the league campaign.

“Yes, there’s a lot of stake because it’s two teams, that are first and third on the log standings. We are not surprised by how Pirates have done because with the squad that they have, they are where they are supposed to be,” Manyama explained.

“We are, however, not worried about them but it’s about us doing our jobs and making sure that we stop all their strengths and try to capitalise on their weaknesses.

“So, we are not really thinking about how good they can be.”

Chiefs top the standings, but all plaudits should go to Pirates for how they’ve adapted to the philosophy of Zinnbauer, who took over the reins in December from then interim coach Rhulani Mokwena.

The 49-year-old coach has brought a sense of belief at Pirates and reinvigorated the desire to win, something that has seen them win their last six league matches, hence they’ve closed the gap at the top to just six points, while there are a handful of matches to play.

With that said, the Sea Robbers host their nemesis wearing the favourites’ tag, especially because they boast a deadly striking contingent which consists of the league’s top goal scorer, Malawian international Gabadinho Mhango, Luvuyo Memela, Thembinkosi Lorch and Vincent Pule.

Manyama, though, who is also part of an offensive contingent, together with Khama Billiat, Leonardo and Samir Nurkovic, that has scored 38 league goals this season, says they’ll be more than capable of giving as good as they get.

“With the talent and character that they have, they are probably where they should be at this point of the season and we know how dangerous they could be. But I am sure they know how dangerous we could be,” he said.

@Mihlalibaleka IOL

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