If the Kaizer Chiefs defence, one that is among the best in the Absa Premiership this season, drops its guard tonight against log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns then goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune will have his hands full.
Khama Billiat, Jeremy Brockie, Sibusiso Vilakazi and their leading sharpshooter Percy Tau descend on FNB Stadium looking to not only stretch the Brazilians’ dominance at the summit, but to also end a three-season long winless run at this venue.
Khune is well aware of Sundowns’ firepower.
“We need to be specific in our planning – how we close them down,” the Amakhosi goal minder and skipper said this week.
“We know that as soon as they jump the halfway line it’s music and we are going to have to dance to their tune. We must defend well. But I trust our players. I trust my defenders.”
Defending is something Chiefs have done exceptionally well this season, even though they have been unfortunate not to be complemented by their attacking department.
Prior to last night’s round of matches, Amakhosi had the second best defensive record in the league behind Maritzburg United, who were hosting Chippa United.
“All we will require on the night is a lot of communication,” Khune added.
“It’s not a major concern that they can score from anywhere.
“I think at Chiefs our weapon – and I am exposing secrets here – is that we believe the first offender must be the first defender, so whichever area the player loses the ball in, he must be the first one to press before the opponents pick up their heads and pick out the pass.
“That has worked very well. I am aware of Hlompho Kekana’s long range shots. I will just have to be on top of my game.”
While Khune sounded confident Chiefs can get all three points and close the gap at the top down to just two points, Sundowns, led by coach Pitso Mosimane, have given the impression they will be underdogs at FNB Stadium, going as far as claiming they are “scared” of Amakhosi.
It appears the players have also picked up on this.
“We are going to give them the respect they deserve,” said their captain Kekana.
“They can hurt you there (FNB Stadium), and we have lost for two seasons in a row. They are capable of winning these big matches at any time.
“We want to close down their front two in Leonardo Castro and Gustavo Paez. We need to be cautious. We can’t be naïve.”
Although giving off a timid vibe when publicly talking about facing Chiefs away from home, the midfielder did not play down the significance of the fixture in the title race.
“Obviously we are not going to win the championship by just winning this game. But it is one we need to try and get the three points as a club.
“For us as players, we want to feel good and finally put one over Chiefs,” Kekana said.
“There are so many expectations. The game itself has got its own hype.
“It’s clear to us that if we don’t win at FNB, we must not lose. Maybe we have to dig deep.”