Golden Arrows a derby dress rehearsal for struggling Kaizer Chiefs

Orlando Pirates' Tapelo Xoki fights for the ball with Kaizer Chiefs' Ranga Chivaviro.

Orlando Pirates' Tapelo Xoki fights for the ball with Kaizer Chiefs' Ranga Chivaviro during the team’s fierst league meeting in November. Picture: Phill Magakoe / AFP

Published Mar 4, 2024


Cavin Johnson has pleaded with his Kaizer Chiefs squad to step up to the occasion and ensure the team finishes the DStv Premiership campaign on a high.

Chiefs are stuck in a rut. They are winless in their last four matches in all competitions, following four successive draws in the league and Nedbank Cup.

The draw in the Nedbank Cup a fortnight ago was catastrophic after Chiefs lost the tie on penalties to Milford, which extended their barren run without a trophy to nine years.

After that, Chiefs did nothing to improve their fortunes and ensure they finish the league in the top three as they drew 0-0 with arch-rivals Moroka Swallows on Saturday.

It was a disappointing result for Chiefs ahead of their clash against another arch-rival, Orlando Pirates – who had won their match earlier – at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Despite their rough patch, Chiefs can’t afford to give up. They must dust themselves off in the rehearsal match for the derby against Golden Arrows on Tuesday night.

And that’s why interim coach Johnson has pleaded with his entire squad to be at their best against Arrows, who are 10th on the log.

“Our solution is that all 30 players in the team must put up their hands and make sure we come here on Wednesday and play better than we did today,” he said after the draw against the Birds.

“We know the concern arises when we play someone in worse conditions than us. But you must know that anybody who plays for Chiefs always puts up their hand.”

Johnson is right. Chiefs’ challenges have come up against struggling sides, with Swallows, Royal AM, and NFD side Milford all fighting for their lives.

But Chiefs have done little to match the intensity that those teams have brought against them or made use of their dominance – turning possession into goals. Their Achilles heel, though – Bruce Bvuma has kept six clean sheets in seven games – has been up front.

Chiefs are yet to score since the restart of the season after the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. These problems started to show up late last year already.

Despite the club signing strikers such as Ranga Chivaviro, they were expected to beef up in January.

Chiefs decided against that, with Johnson, who’s an interim coach, by the way, saying it was his job to make the current crop of players better.

However, the 61-year-old coach has changed his tune after the three-game goalless run that has many asking whether they need a striker’s coach.

“It’s always been a concern since I started,” said Johnson, whose team has only scored eight goals in 10 matches since he assumed the role.

“I think in whatever team I have coached before, it’s always been my concern. Football is always nice when we see goals being scored.

“All my life, I have said (I want to have a superior goal difference to the opponent).

“If you score three goals, I score four. That’s something I work on continuously.

“So, just like you are worried, I am worried. So yes, we are working on it and, hopefully, it will come right for us eventually.”

And while Johnson says they are working around the clock to get his strikers firing on all cylinders, he took a swipe at the media for the mentality of his troops.

“It’s not about anxiety but mentality. When we don’t have you guys writing and talking (on social media, it’s better for the players),” Johnson insisted.

“That is the generation of the athletes that we are dealing with. They are all about the things that you guys (the media) like to do.

“Maybe I need to get into that space and my strikers will score goals. But it is a concern for me, the club and has always been my concern whenever I’ve worked.”