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Chiefs plot 'Revenge and Redemption' against Sundowns in wake of MTN8 curse

Stuart Baxter, head coach of Kaizer Chiefs during their MTN8 quarter-final against Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville last month

Stuart Baxter, head coach of Kaizer Chiefs during their MTN8 quarter-final against Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville last month. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Sep 8, 2021


CAPE TOWN – Memories of last month's MTN8 demise after rank poor match officiating will motivate Kaizer Chiefs as they plot 'Revenge and Redemption' against Mamelodi Sundowns in Sunday's DStv Premiership clash at Loftus Versfeld.

Sundowns controversially defeated Chiefs 2-1 in a penalty shoot-out in an MTN8 quarter-final, thanks to four saves by Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. Television replays showed that Mweene was off his line at the time that the opponent's penalties were taken.

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But the match officials were blind to the misdemeanours and the result stood. It was a crushing blow to Chiefs who had done enough to tie up a winning result in regulation time.

After the match, former Bafana Bafana midfielder David Kannemeyer, who had played for Sundowns and Chiefs, was moved to remark, despite the latter's defeat: "Kaizer Chiefs taught Mamelodi Sundowns a lesson."

Sundowns were not too convincing then and now a month later, they will find Chiefs a formidable opponent. Since then, Chiefs have progressed in leaps and bounds under coach Stuart Baxter who has had far more time to impose his gameplan on the players. Baxter has also noted that he has gleaned useful insights into the collective ability of his playing staff.

The recent FIFA break for international matches has allowed teams to consolidate their game structures and prepare for the resumption of the bread-and-butter league. This is also true for Chiefs and Sundowns, except that both had many players on international duty. They would have missed out on training sessions at their clubs.

Chiefs had seven players on duty. They were Daniel Akpeyi (Nigeria), Bruce Bvuma, Njabulo Blom, Austin Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo, Sibusiso Mabiliso and Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe).

Sundowns, too, had a fair number on international duty over the past two weeks. They include Divine Lunga (Zimbabwe), Nyiko Mobbie, Rushine De Reuck, Thapelo Morena, Mothobi Mvala and Thabiso Kutumela.

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The players returned to their clubs after the international matches on Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday’s Chiefs-Sundowns clash could be a potentially explosive league showdown as Chiefs will be better prepared than was the case last time.

One man who was inspired by Chiefs' MTN8 performance in a lost cause was Molefi Ntseki, the former Bafana Bafana coach who nowadays heads up the Technical and Youth Development Academy at Chiefs. He reflected on the close-shave Chiefs suffered then.

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“Playing Sundowns is always an ‘A’ match and that time we were looking forward to reaching the semi-finals," said Ntseki.

"Unfortunately, we lost on penalties. The team had a good game, but we conceded two early goals.

"We made mistakes, which led to us conceding goals. We did well to change our tactical approach and managed to take the game to penalties."

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Since then, Chiefs have played their opening two Premiership matches, and are undefeated.

"The league games against Galaxy and Baroka were important for us," said Ntseki, who once worked as an assistant Bafana Bafana coach when Baxter headed up the national team.

"We were looking to do well in the first match to give us confidence before going into the second match against Baroka.

"The tactical strategy was to win the Galaxy game, but we drew. Any point is important as you will need it at the end of the season.

"Against Baroka, we scored two good goals in the first half. We missed an avalanche of goals and chances, which were created from good team play and tactical understanding.

"In the second half, we conceded a goal, but it was a good win."

Chiefs are looking to win the league title. Seven seasons have passed since they last accomplished that feat during Baxter’s first stint as the coach there.