Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama reacts as Chiefs counterpart Giovanni Solinas looks on in Tembisa on Tuesday night. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The odds were stacked against Highlands Park for their showdown against Kaizer Chiefs.

Yes, they would have a 15 000-strong capacity crowd behind them at the ‘Slaughter House’, Makhulong Stadium, and they hadn’t lost their this season as yet ahead of Tuesday night’s Absa Premiership clash.

But they went down in their last encounter against Free State Stars away, and would’ve been nervous of coming up against a star-studded Chiefs line-up.

Khama Billiat, Lebogang Manyama, Gustavo Paez, Siphelele Ntshangase and Dumsani Zuma were all threats to the Highlands defence.

But Da Gama hatched a plan, and his players carried it out perfectly to claim a point.

“I think we are very humbled. Our game plan worked to a tee – we forced them to take the long kicks. We understood that Khune is good on the counter,” Da Gama told SuperSport in a post-match interview.

“We always had cover on probably one of the best players in South Africa (Billiat). And then Lindokuhle Mbatha gets Man of the Match – I’m proud. I’m proud of these boys, they deserve everything.

“I told you, we are here to be as competitive as possible. Fair play to Chiefs, they came out to play. It was good football. We had opportunities to score, they had opportunities to score. But overall, the game plan – I just think it was fantastic.”

But Da Gama is not getting carried away just yet, as he knows that the Lions of the North have registered just a single victory so far in seven matches.

And next up are Chippa United in Tembisa again. “I’m just very proud of these boys. They have come to the PSL not to prove a point – we cannot compare or compete with any of the teams,” Da Gama said.

“What we are doing is to say we are going to be as competitive as possible, and to make the PSL brand a wonderful brand.

“We haven’t settled yet and are still finding our feet in the PSL. We’ve got our feet on the ground, will keep on learning from teams like Pirates and Chiefs.”

 

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