JOHANNESBURG – Like his Kaizer Chiefs coach, defender Mario Booysen is of the opinion that much of the flak that has been directed at the club’s rearguard recently is hyperbole.
Booysen in particular was under the microscope following Amakhosi’s 2-1 defeat to rivals Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby last weekend and Giovanni Solinas saw it fit to shield his newest recruit by arguing that Chiefs have the best defenders in the league.
It was the players’ turn to speak for himself yesterday ahead of Amakhosi hosting SuperSport United in the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout on Saturday in Durban.
“In football you sometimes make mistakes and in certain games, when you make those mistakes, it’s a heavy price that you pay,” said Booysen, who gave away possession leading up to Pirates’ winner in the derby.
“I think we have all learned from it, especially me that made the mistake. You can’t question the quality we have in the backline. Yes we took a lot of criticism, but I think it must not hit our confidence because we can’t become bad players overnight. If you look at the defenders here, Siyabonga (Ngezana), Daniel (Cardoso) and Tower (Erick Mathoho) they are all international players with experience.”
The facts, however, are that Chiefs have uncharacteristically conceded far too many goals than normal so far this season - a total of 13 goals in 14 matches from all competitions. Even first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, in an interview last week, had lost count of how many times he has failed to keep a clean sheet this season.
Solinas has insisted his chopping and changing of the rearguard and other departments on the pitch have been a result of trying to give everyone a chance to play as well as surprise injuries to some of his regulars.
Yesterday the coach claimed Cardoso had been unavailable to play in the last two matches for Chiefs because of a stomach virus, but this was the first time he was revealing this piece of information having not done so during those games.
“In certain teams it works to have consistency in playing the same centrebacks. We look at it (how Solinas has done it) and we think it’s a bit inconsistent, but I don’t think so. The amount of quality the defenders have means anyone can play any day,” Booysen explained.
“Yes, I understand the question, and in football you want to have consistency, but at the end of the day if the coach decides to rotate the team we have to respect that and be ready as players. I don’t think this is a big thing.”