JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs’ caretaker coach Patrick Mabedi has a message for the club’s supporters who watched their loss to a relatively second string Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday and lost faith.
An army of Amakhosi fans left the FNB Stadium after Themba Zwane’s goal in optional time gave the Brazilians a 2-0 lead in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup.
Those fans missed out on Bernard Parker’s consolation goal that made the final score respectable at 2-1. The disappointment wasn’t necessarily about that specific performance, but it’s a build-up of three trophy-less seasons.
“We’re in a process of pre-season. This game showed us what we need to do and what we need to work on,” Mabedi said. “Sometimes, in football, you mustn’t take things at face value. It’s good to have hiccups at the beginning so that you work on them early because you’re on a mission.
Games like this will give us opportunities as coaches to learn, pick up the mistakes and then work on them. I need to give credit to the players. They did well. It’s just that when you play against a team like Sundowns, you make one mistake and they punish you.”
Giovanni Solinas will be in charge this season and the Italian’s work permit should be sorted this week after he missed the opportunity to sit on the bench on Saturday and in the Maize Cup last week. Mabedi will then return to his post of assistant coach, the role he played last season under Steve Komphela before being promoted to lead the side in the interim after Komphela’s resignation in April.
Mabedi saw first-hand Chiefs lose steam towards the end of the league race in which the Soweto giants finished behind Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.
The silver-lining from that was that Amakhosi qualified for continental football, they will feature in the CAF Confederation Cup later this year.
Chiefs ended up in third place because they didn’t take matches by the scruff of the neck last season nor were they potent enough upfront to challenge Sundowns and Pirates. Their strong defence held the team together. In Khama Billiat they now have a player who can make something out of nothing with a moment of brilliance.
The club’s attack is also shaping up well with Leonardo Castro leading it while there is also Ryan Moon, Dumisani Zuma, Kabelo Mahlasela and Siphelele Ntshangase, among others. The problem has been the lack of good supply from midfield to the attack which means the playmakers must step up.
But Chiefs will not be making any drastic signings from now until the start of the season. Mabedi said the club is only looking at adding a leftback.
“What we saw last year is history, we learned from it and we’re taking the positives to this upcoming season,” Mabedi said. “We know where we were lacking. We played well and we had a good team last season, don’t take anything away from it. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t score goals.
It’s important now to get the balance right. We are working on it and we have players who are capable of getting those goals. Now we have a way of working to get it right.”@NJABULON