Kaizer Chiefs progressing well ahead of Orlando Pirates clash
JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has kept a calm and modest demeanour ahead of Amakhosi’s clash against bitter-rivals Orlando Pirates, despite an impressive outing from his charges on Tuesday.
Chiefs have had a roller-coaster start to the season, having won two games and lost one. In their first outing they laboured for a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Maritzburg United in the MTN8 quarter-finals.
But a week later, they were brought down to earth by champions Mamelodi Sundowns on the opening day of the Premiership. Calls for Hunt, the new coach, to start cracking the whip gained momentum.
The 56-year-old heeded the calls, making five changes to his starting line-up in their mid-week league clash against Chippa United. Hunt’s changes gave Chiefs a breath of new life, as his troops hit the upright thrice in the first half.
In the second half, Chiefs continued with their strides as they looked to add goals to their dominance. But they were made to sweat for the win following goalkeeper Veli Mothwa’s exploits, before an unfortunate own goal from Gregory Damons deservedly gave them all three points late in the game.
“I thought there were certainly glimpses (of progress) tonight. I thought our shape was much better, but every game will give you certain problems. We created so many good opportunities and we didn’t score,” Hunt said.
“I think we hit the post, I don’t know how many times, in the first half. And I think it was frustrating. You can see that a little tension set in towards the end. But when we lose like (we) did on the weekend, you can expect a little bit of that. We’ll take one step forward and try to go from there.”
Despite the narrow win, Chiefs’ performance was the kind that will give them much confidence that they can go head to head with any team that crosses their path. Hunt, though, was not getting carried away.
Chiefs will clash with arch rivals Pirates in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals away at Orlando Stadium on Saturday with a lot at stake. A win for either team will bring them closer to ending a trophy drought that has stretched to over five seasons.
“I don’t think that (the performance against Chippa) will affect us on the weekend at all. But I think it will give me a better understanding of some of the players. There were few eyebrows raised tonight,” said Hunt who won the MTN8 title with Wits in 2016.
Hunt has his back against the wall at Chiefs as he can’t sign any players after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed their season-long transfer ban appeal on Tuesday.