JOHANNESBURG - Daniel Cardoso revealed what’s killing Kaizer Chiefs in a frank interview a week before the Soweto giants start their campaign to end a three-season long trophy drought.
Amakhosi finished pre-season with a 1-0 loss to Cape Town City at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday in the Mpumalanga Cultural Xperience Cup. Chiefs, who were pedestrian and only kicked into action once they were trailing, were played off the park by the hungrier, more aggressive Citizens who were more inventive in their attack.
The Capetonians pinned Amakhosi back for the most part of the second half in an intense and physical match that had all the hallmarks of an Absa Premiership contest. The Glamour Boys only looked good in patches, and even their best department last season, defence, looked a shadow of the impregnable fortress it was.
“I think that games of this nature are very good for us,” Cardoso said. “It shows where we stand at the moment and where we can improve. There are one or two positions that we have to tweak. We’re still playing a bit more defensive which isn’t the type of football that Chiefs need to play. When we made the substitutions, attacking midfielders coming on, you could see there was a big difference. We were more exciting going forward. Once we start playing too defensive we invite pressure onto us and it’s killing us.”
Chiefs’ defence was the cornerstone of their campaign last season. They conceded the least number of goals in the league. If they were more lethal upfront, they could have mounted a serious challenge for the championship instead of just finishing third, 12 points behind champions Mamelodi Sundowns. Former coach Steve Komphela put a lot of emphasis on Chiefs’ defence, something the club’s best defender last season, Cardoso, believes must change if they are to bring back the glory days.
“When we play defensively, we invite more pressure to our backline,” Cardoso said. “Always having six players at the back will invite players from the opponents to come forward. It’s something that we need to fix. We saw in the second half against Cape Town City that when we made those changes, we actually started attacking and buzzing more - also we close up space so that when the ball comes long it’s either over us or we’re winning it and we attack straight away.”
Chiefs will start the season with a mouth-watering clash against Pitso Mosimane's defending champions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. New coach Giovanni Solinas will finally sit on the bench as he will have his work permit then. The Italian has watched Chiefs’ pre-season matches on the stands. The results from those matches have been underwhelming.
They won the Maize Cup but didn’t face much strong competition as they beat an ABC Motsepe League team and a tired Free State Stars in the final. Chiefs then lost to a second string Sundowns side in the newly incepted Shell Helix Ultra Cup at the FNB Stadium last week and to the Citizens at the weekend in Mbombela in more challenging matches.
Their barren run means that no result is looked at in isolation, every setback is a reminder to the club’s supporters how much they have gone without celebrating any silverware. Such a situation puts Solinas in a tough situation as he has to quickly get a trophy to please the fans and buy himself time.
“The fans are going to be on our backs from day one,” Cardoso acknowledged. “I think that we have to come out and surprise them. We just need to start playing more attacking football and stop playing too defensively. That will change the situation big time.”
Against a Sundowns side that will have their tails up after their first win in the Champions League group stage, Chiefs will have to be at their best.