Kaizer Chiefs defensive kingpin Daniel Cardoso believes the team’s fighting spirit has been the boost that has seen them stand head and shoulders above the rest so far this season.
Six matches into the campaign, Chiefs find themselves top of the PSL standings with 13 points, having won four matches, drawn one and lost one.
Their biggest strength in those four victories has been their never-say-die attitude, a feat they have managed to instil from the outset.
In their season opener against Highlands Park, they had to take the lead three times before they could eventually seal their first win of the season.
Having narrowly defeated Black Leopards 1-0 for their second victory, they dropped their first points of the season after a 1-1 draw with SuperSport United.
They would, however, bounce back to winning ways, pulling off a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over a stubborn Cape Town City side away from home.
Chiefs’ potency and burning desire to win again came to the fore in their 2-0 win over AmaZulu on Tuesday, where Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat got onto the scoresheet in the last 10 minutes of the game.
The hunger from his teammates is overwhelming for Cardoso, ironically noting that their biggest problem last season was being too quick to press the panic button as they finished ninth in the league - their worst showing in 12 years.
“As a team, we’ve learnt that no player can do it alone. We’ve got to do it as a team. When we were 1-0 down last season, we panicked. But I think that has changed this season,” Cardoso said.
“We’ve been to a lot of workshops together as players and (as a) team, and I think that has been working. We’ve stuck together and we don’t panic because we know that we’ve got a fighting spirit and I think that’s something we lacked last season.”
Chiefs might still be on the road to recovery after last season’s poor finish and defeat to second-tier outfit TS Galaxy in the Nedbank Cup final, but they’ve been boosted by the return of Itumeleng Khune and Eric Mathoho from injury.
Khune, who is Chiefs’ No 1 and captain, keeps his back-four on their toes throughout the match with his aggression, something that they lacked from his stand-ins Daniel Akpeyi and Bruce Bvuma.
If Chiefs finish top of the log after eight matches, they’ll scoop the Q1 innovation worth R1.5million.
That’s why bagging full points against Baroka in their seventh match of the season at home tomorrow becomes non-negotiable.
“We haven’t been at the top for a while. And if we can win the Q-innovation that could be a huge morale booster, considering that we haven’t won anything in almost five seasons. So that will take us a step closer to getting something,” Cardoso said.