JOHANNESBURG – Does Owen da Gama have the right formula to stop an in-form Kaizer Chiefs side tonight like he did with two memorable draws away to both Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns earlier in this Absa Premiership campaign?
Highlands Park host the Glamour Boys at Makhulong Stadium at 7.30pm searching for only their second home win of the season.
Da Gama discussed a lot of potential scenarios ahead of welcoming Amakhosi to Tembisa, and these are the three that stood up.
One of the reasons Highlands have struggled to turn decent performances into victories has also been due to the unavailability of their Namibian hitman.
Shalulile finished joint-top scorer in the NFD last season with an impressive 15 goals as the Lions of the North were crowned champions, but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that he returned to action following an ankle injury.
“He gives us a lot of mobility when he is playing,” the coach said. “I hope now that he is back there can be a difference, especially when he combines with (Lindokuhle) Mbatha, who is in top form, along with youngster Thabo Mahlatsi and (Moeketsi) Sekola.”
Parking the bus
Da Gama has had to defend his methods recently following good results at Pirates, a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the Premier League season, and a goalless draw away to reigning champions Sundowns in August.
“I can understand this criticism against Pirates because we did not have a single shot at goal (goalie Wayne Sandilands put the ball in his own net to give to give them the lead), but that was an ice-breaker for us. Even now we are still settling,” Da Gama explained.
“Against Sundowns we fought. We hit the post and had six attempts. We can’t compare the teams and their quality. I always say those who talk about parking the bus must find their way around the bus.”
Facing unpredictable Solinas
Spare a thought for AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson, who traveled all the way to Goble Park in Bethlehem from Durban to watch Giovanni Solinas’s Chiefs beat Free State Stars 2-0 using almost an entirely new team following their 4-1 thrashing of Cape Town City.
It must have been near impossible for Johnson to plan to stop Amakhosi a few days later, so it wasn’t at all surprising Chiefs won 2-0 in that game as well.
“Sundowns also made about six changes when we played them,” Da Gama said. “This means it’s important to plan to your strengths, not necessarily that of the opposition. We have some aerial power and we may have a specific plan for Khama Billiat.
I suppose we will know on the day how good our plan is.”