All eyes on Kaizer Chiefs and Gavin Hunt as PSL action returns after Fifa break
JOHANNESBURG - Fifa breaks are a double-edged sword for domestic clubs, depending on form and momentum. But generally, the teams campaigning in topflight football always hope that the two-week mini break from domestic competitions does more good than bad.
Last season’s runners-up, however, will be the ones that will need luck the most after the break. Kaizer Chiefs have been a shadow of themselves this term, having had an underwhelming outing in both the DStv Premiership and MTN8 cup competition.
In the league, Hunt’s men have bagged four points out of a possible nine, thanks to one win, one draw and one loss. It was, however, their MTN8 campaign that was the most embarrassing. In the semi-finals, they were trounced by their rivals Orlando Pirates 5-0 on aggregate.
But having had time to catch their breath – and hopefully digest the underwhelming start which was capped off by the dismissal of their appeal against a transfer ban – they’ll get a chance to return to winning ways in the league against Lamontville Golden Arrows.
In the encounter that will be hosted at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium this afternoon (3.30pm kick-off), Amakhosi need to find their scoring boots, having failed to score in five successive matches. They were exposed by the absence of last season’s top marksman Samir Nurkovic who’s injured.
But against Arrows, Chiefs will have to sweat for their victory. Despite the departure of coach Steve Komphela who joined Mamelodi Sundowns, Abafana Bes’thende are enjoying life under former assistant and now head coach Mandla Ncikazi.
Unlike Chiefs, fellow Soweto giants Pirates will be confident ahead of the restart, considering they are fresh from the MTN8 semi-finals victory. But coach Josef Zinnbauer will know that his troops cannot afford to be complacent, especially in their next assignment.
The Buccaneers will welcome wounded side SuperSport United, who were booted out of the MTN8 by Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 on aggregate before the break. The match is scheduled for Orlando Stadium this evening (6pm kick-off). But Pirates will surely not drop their guard because of SuperSport’s MTN8 set-back.
Instead, they’ll know very well how Matsatsantsa a Pitori have been the cause of many of their turmoils in the past. That Zinnbauer is at the helm was after coach Kaitano Tembo’s men outplayed former coach Micho Sredojevic’s team early last season.
Sredojevic’s resignation after that loss to SuperSport was almost a thread that he appeared to have taken from his predecessors – Muhsin Ertugral previously quit his Buccaneers job on live television after his team was thumped 6-1 by SuperSport in Mbombela.
At Chloorkop, the Sundowns base, the technical team has a bit of a spring in their step. Known for being slow starters, due to juggling between continental and domestic football, the champions have a chance to adjust to the approach of being under a three-man command before the CAF Champions League heavy schedule begins.
Under new joint coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, who took over from Pitso Mosimane, and newly appointed senior coach Komphela, Sundowns have from the outset made their intentions clear about their title defence – they are at the summit of the standings after two wins and one draw. They host a revamped AmaZulu side at the Masterpieces Stadium tomorrow (3.30pm kick-off).
The Brazilians will know that they’ll have to be at their best. Usuthu, who have enjoyed a promising start, have been mandated by the new management to finish in the top four this season.
Meanwhile, Celtic, whose financial woes are well documented, may not be tasked with certain targets by the beleaguered management. But that they are in the final of the Wafa Wafa competition, their second final in a row after the Nedbank Cup, shows desire and determination from the team.
However, their final against Pirates on December 12 is still three weeks away. And that’s why they'll focus on defeating Cape Town City in their backyard tomorrow (3.30pm kick-off). But that’s easier said than done.
The Citizens have endured a roller-coaster start to their campaign this season, after being bundled out of the MTN8 in the first round and losing their last league match to Sundowns. That’s why they’ll be hoping to bounce back as soon as possible.