PRETORIA - They say defending is an art and SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo – as well as his Kaizer Chiefs counterpart Giovanni Solinas – can attest to this. Both sides will have to work on their rearguard ahead of the MTN8 semifinal second leg at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
What was on displayat Lucas Moripe Stadium today was schoolboy errors, low grade defending and could have convinced both Tembo and Solinas that a defender or two is needed before the transfer window closes on Friday.
From a neutral point of view, this was what a Sunday afternoon premium fixture in the topflight should be: a four-goal thriller that had each sets of fans occasionally checking for a pulse.
But the coaches will be worried about having to address the frailties and will want to act quickly given there’s still nine months of football to be played. Chiefs got off to an ideal start with Khama Billiat breaking the deadlock, finishing off a move started by fellow striker Dumisani Zuma.
The SuperSport defence was caught ball watching and the speedy Zuma dragged the ball to the edge of the penalty box before tucking it in as he first looked for Leonardo Castro, who couldn’t get to the ball, before finding Billiat to guide the ball into an empty net. But the hosts have already shown on a few occasions this season that they have a never-say-die attitude and are the comeback kings.
SuperSport piled on the pressure, knowing that something would give. Chiefs haven’t been at all comfortable at the back this season, with Solinas even going as far as requesting the club recall centreback Lorenzo Gordinho from his loan spell from Bloemfontein Celtic only for the Free State outfit to refuse and insist that the player is theirs to keep until January 2019.
Amakhosi only enjoyed their lead for all of five minutes before Bradley Grobler equalised and then later put SuperSport ahead on the stroke of halftime. This is where Solinas watched in disbelief as his team’s defensive flaws were on full display as SuperSport asked questions.
Grobler controlled the ball brilliantly in the opposition half, pulling away from Daniel Cardoso to beat goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune for the first of his two goals. Cardoso really should have been a little tighter in his man-marking of the SuperSport striker. Then, in almost a copy of that equaliser, Grobler was at the receiving end of a long throw from Phumlani Ntshangase.
Cardoso was again ball watching, but this time he was joined in the gazing by Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Siyabonga Ngezana – Grobler being given plenty of space to aim and shoot for SuperSport to take the lead. It’s due to this seeming lack of leadership at the back that Khune, the country’s first-choice goalkeeper, has kept a single clean sheet in five games.
SuperSport didn’t set a prime example either when they had their backs against the wall in the second half when Chiefs looked to level matters. Billiat turned provider for Castro to make sure they took with them two away goals for the second leg next weekend. Amakhosi will need to have addressed their defending issues because SuperSport have to score to advance to the final on September 29.