CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy says, in all the time he’s known Kaizer Chiefs, he’s never seen them sit back as much as they did at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night. The response from Chiefs coach Steve Komphela was simple and unequivocal: “It was deliberate.”
The Soweto club’s conservative game plan worked and, despite being under the cosh for large periods of the match, they emerged as 2-0 victors. They absorbed the pressure from the Capetonians, and then hit them brutally and effectively on the counter. It was Amakhosi’s first win of the season - and it was founded on the clever premise of nullifying City’s strengths.
“We needed to be smart (against City). And, importantly, we didn’t park the bus, we still came out nicely and played," explained Komphela.
“We had the better discipline defensively. Yes, they got behind us at times, but we dealt with it. The defenders did well and there was also great protection from the midfield. And when we came out on the counter, we did so fluently and fast. But take nothing away from City, they push you to the limit.”
McCarthy had six new starters to face Chiefs as he chose to rotate the squad after the weekend’s tough MTN8 semi-final win over Wits. It spoke volumes for his faith in his entire squad - and, even though they lost, every player gave his all. It was just unfortunate that they couldn’t convert their dominance of possession and territory into goals.
“I think we needed to rotate the team,” said McCarthy. “In a job like this, you have to make decisions. I think losing Teko (Modise, to injury in the 16th minute) was crucial because that meant we didn’t have a player who could find the pass to kill their defence.
“But credit to Chiefs, they frustrated us. Their game plan was spot-on, in that they allowed us to play and then used their wingers to get behind us. Khune (Itumeleng, goalkeeper) was the massive difference between the teams. When you have such a keeper, it makes life so much easier.
“It was like a funeral in our dressing-room afterwards. But I still think my team can be proud of their performance. It was an entertaining game of football, end-to-end stuff. So it’s a loss, and all good things come to an end. Losing to Chiefs doesn’t make us a bad team.
"It’s still early, though, and the defeat is not the end of the world. Now we just have to see how (we) move on from this. I was gutted that the winning streak came to an end. The challenge now is to get the players to pick themselves up and keep going with a positive attitude.”
For both City and Chiefs, the challenges keep coming thick and fast. Komphela’s men are back in action again tomorrow when they host defending league champions Wits, while McCarthy is preparing his City team for a clash against his former club Orlando Pirates, in Soweto on Tuesday night.
While Komphela savoured Wednesday’s victory over City, he admitted he was expecting a real tough, difficult encounter against the Clever Boys on Saturday, who have had a nightmare start to the new season.
“This is a bad time to be playing Wits. I can imagine what Gavin (Hunt, Wits coach) is saying to his players - he won’t be bringing roses. It’s difficult to face them next up,” said Komphela.