Captain Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs was highly critical of his defenders. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Captain Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs was highly critical of his defenders. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
IOL soccer writer Mazola Molefe
IOL soccer writer Mazola Molefe

JOHANNESBURG – “Is this Kaizer Chiefs? Is this the players that deserve to play for the team (sic)? I doubt it.” 

And with those remarks Itumeleng Khune had questioned the club’s entire recruitment policy as the Glamour Boys buckled yet again - and for the third time in a calendar year - to their Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates at the weekend.

The goalkeeper had just been stolen for a quickie in an impromptu post-match reaction by broadcasters SuperSport following Chiefs’ 2-1 defeat to the Buccaneers in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Pirates’ winning goal was scored by a player (Justin Shonga) whose bicycle kick didn’t quite come off, but managed to pick himself up, sprint past two defenders and squeezed the ball past the Amakhosi goalie to be the hero on the day.

Khune didn’t just throw his teammates under the bus willy-nilly.

It’s been coming from the skipper, who has found it tough to keep a clean sheet this season as he’s forced to adapt to an ever-changing Amakhosi back four by coach Giovanni Solinas.

Khune's frustration has been a long time in the making. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Khune's frustration has been a long time in the making. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

It wasn’t the first time the keeper was let down by his defenders this since the Italian took over.

But the first time he was asked about it, coincidentally after he’d conceded two goals against the same Pirates team at FNB Stadium last month, Khune put up a brave face and shielded Mario Booysen, Siyabonga Ngezana, Godfrey Walusimbi, Ramahlwe Mphahlele and the like.

When you’ve leaked as many goals as he has so far this season, you are bound to lose a few screws upstairs.

Jackson Mabokgwane of Orlando Pirates celebrates their victory during the 2018 Telkom Knockout semifinal match against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Jackson Mabokgwane of Orlando Pirates celebrates their victory during the 2018 Telkom Knockout semifinal match against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

“We are a big team. We can’t be conceding goals like this. Schoolboy errors week in, week out, it leads us to not winning matches,” Khune cried out.

The fact is that Amakhosi were warned - even when they were among the most miserly of rearguards in the seasons before with Steve Komphela in charge, questions have always been raised about whether this was the kind of defence that could win a championship.

And the answer has often been a resounding NO, but because it wasn’t one of the players saying so, the cries fell on deaf ears.

Maybe the skipper will force a reaction out of his employers in the upcoming January transfer window.

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Apparently some of Booysen’s ex-employers laughed themselves silly when they heard the centreback had managed to escape life in the NFD wilderness with Ajax Cape Town by signing for Chiefs in August.

Walusimbi, a Ugandan international headed to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, still needs a bit of time to adapt to the pace of the South African Premier League, while Ngezana has taken a few steps backwards in his growth this season. 

Mphahlele is more attack-minded than he has ever been, while Daniel Cardoso has been kicking his heels on the bench after an awful start to Solinas’ reign of errors.

The coach is also to blame. For weeks now it’s been crystal clear that his high pressing game model just isn’t going to take - and maybe Willard Katsande does need a more defensive minded player alongside him other than Siphelele Ntshangase or George Maluleka.

The captain has spoken. Maybe that’s enough, but I am guessing it may very well be too late to amend anything now.

@superjourno


The Star

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