JOHANNESBURG – Leonardo Castro’s New Year’s resolution will excite Kaizer Chiefs’ fans and send shivers down the spines of Amakhosi’s opponents.
The first of those opponents in 2019 will be the Colombian’s former team, Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on Saturday at 3.30pm. Castro knows the Brazilians well and they also know him, having been a big part of the club’s most successful year - 2016, where they lifted the Absa Premiership in record style and the CAF Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
Castro hasn’t reached those heights since switching to Chiefs. In fact he hasn’t won any silverware since joining Amakhosi a year ago.
“Everyone sets goals they would like to achieve at the start of the year,” Castro said yesterday, at Chiefs’ Village in Naturena.
“In my case, I want to win the league with Kaizer Chiefs. I want to win the CAF Confederation Cup also. It’s important for me and the club. Obviously as a striker my job is to score goals, so my personal target is to score 15 goals in these couple of months.”
Castro has already scored seven goals in all competitions this year. Should he reach his target, he would take his tally over 20 for the first time in South Africa. With Chiefs’ barren run in its fourth season, this would be a perfect time for Castro to find his scoring boots.
“When I arrived at Kaizer Chiefs, I knew that the team hadn’t won a trophy in a long period,” Castro said. “We all know we need to deliver something for the team.
Us, as the experienced players, we need to manage that pressure and bring calm to the younger ones so that we become a good team. We all know that we need to deliver in these upcoming months.”
Chiefs and Sundowns’ unbeaten runs will be put to the test at FNB Stadium tomorrow. The Brazilians are unbeaten in 25 games in the league while Chiefs have won three games without conceding a goal under Ernst Middendorp.
“The confidence is high,” Castro said. “We are preparing well. We are winning the games. We are scoring. There’s a new mentality and challenge.
We all know that this is a big game for us. We need to take it like a cup final if we want to be on top of the table. We all know the quality Sundowns has. We need to be alert and try to do our best on the field.”
Chiefs will play a number of “finals” this month. They will visit former league champions and current log leaders, Bidvest Wits, in Milpark on Wednesday. After that they take on Zesco United in Ndola in the first leg of the Confederation Cup play-offs.
Chiefs not only have to do well in the league, but they also have to at least reach the group stage of the Confederation Cup to make up for their past disappointments.