JOHANNESBURG - It’s tricky for a Kaizer Chiefs striker to weigh in on the team’s recent defensive lapses without appearing to throw his colleagues under the bus. But a frustrated Leonardo Castro did just that, while trying to be measured and honest in his assessment of a side that looks so good in attack but a horror show at the back.
“The goals we have conceded are stupid,” he said, giving a slightly harsh opinion that is probably lost in translation for the Colombian forward. “We were leading 2-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic (in a league match on Wednesday night) and we should have closed it down. For strikers, scoring gives us confidence because it is our job. But we can’t concede goals like those ones.”
Celtic overturned a two-goal deficit to draw the match, but that wasn’t the first indication that Amakhosi have concerns at the back since the arrival of coach Giovanni Solinas. Last weekend, away at SuperSport United in the first leg of their MTN8 fixture at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, questions were also asked of Chiefs in that department. And it was the same story with a few games before that.
With SuperSport visiting tomorrow night for the return leg in the cup, their potent attack will feel self-assured that they, too, can dominate Chiefs following the 2-2 stalemate from last Sunday’s clash.
“As the strikers we can score anytime,” Castro said. And this is no exaggeration - his combination with Khama Billiat and Dumisani Zuma upfront looks to be among the deadliest in the Premier League at the moment.
“Last season we struggled to score goals, but now with Billiat here, and we know each other very well, it is easier. We know each other’s strengths - (Siphelele) Ntshangase can pass the ball and Zuma is a quick player.
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“This is a big game for us. We need to fight for this cup. We also need to be focused on our defensive job.”
“I know I can score more. Sometimes, I just need to be calm in the box but I know I can score more.” - Castro#HailTheChief #Amakhosi4Life #MTN8 pic.twitter.com/nkg38qDeDW
"Khama has made our job easier. I feel frustrated when we are leading the game, but we can’t manage it. But this is the coach’s part, to help us also. The players on the pitch know what is happening and of course they try, but at the end of the day we can’t concede goals like that. We have been making the same mistakes and letting in similar goals in the last games.”
Castro suggested the introduction of a more defensive minded player would help Chiefs consolidate their lead in that situation. “I think sometimes the strikers also need to wait and know in which moments they have to press high - we can’t press high all the time during the game,” he said.
"If we put a guy like (Wiseman) Meyiwa in to help us close the gap and keep the lead and give Ntshangase time to recover for the next game, maybe that would have worked. I could be wrong or I could be right. We need to try something different because sometimes when you play two games in two days you get tired, we are human beings after all. I think it would help to refresh the team and help those who are tired. That is my view.”