Kaizer Chiefs’ Yusuf Maart: We will need our best to beat Royal AM

Kaizer Chiefs player Yusuf Maart and Orlando Pirates Relebohile Mofokeng battle for the ball during the Soweto derby at Soccer City Stadium

Kaizer Chiefs and Royal AM will resume their DStv Premiership campaign at the Harry Gwala Stadium following a one-and-a-half-month break due to the Africa Cup of Nations. Seen here: Chiefs player Yusuf Maart and Orlando Pirates’ Relebohile Mofokeng. Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 18, 2024


Kaizer Chiefs’ captain Yusuf Maart says whichever team gives their best between them and Royal AM this afternoon will bag the first three points of the year.

Chiefs and Royal AM will resume their DStv Premiership campaign at the Harry Gwala Stadium following a one-and-a-half-month break due to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chiefs finished the first half of the season on a high, having amassed 10 points from a possible 12 to place themselves sixth in the log standings.

However, not the same can be said for Thwihli Thwahla, who have been inconsistent as they went to the break 14th on the log.

A fresh start

But nonetheless, those respective finishes in the first half of the term won’t count for much ahead of the restart and the two team’s stats in previous meetings.

Since their integration to the top flight, AM have been a bogey side for the mighty Amakhosi, winning three games, losing two, and drawing one from the last six.

Maart expects the analysts of the two teams to have their work cut out for them in Pietermaritzburg.

“(I haven’t heard anything special about them) on my side. But we have people who analyse the game and stuff. They’ll show us what we need to do,” he said.

“But they’ll probably analyse us as a team. They want to see how we play. So, whoever goes out there and puts in more effort will get the results.”

Chiefs were initially scheduled to face TS Galaxy for the first game after the Afcon, but the Premier Soccer League decided to postpone all midweek fixtures owing to Bafana Bafana’s arrival from the Ivory Coast.

So did the postponement of the games and change of fixtures have an impact on Chiefs’ preparations for the two matches?

“I think, as a professional, that (the postponement of fixtures) shouldn’t disturb you as the team because you must be ready for every game,” Maart said.

“We are mentally strong, so we’ve moved on from the fact that the game didn’t take place and we focus on the next one.”

Strong mentality

Chiefs’ strong mentality and character might have been impossible without the help of interim coach Cavin Johnson in the past few months.

Johnson took over the reins from Molefi Ntseki and brought a breath of fresh air to the team, with players who were in the fringes also getting game time.

And that’s why Maart says they are ready to compete against any team, especially after their intense preparations during the mini pre-season.

“The coach gave us ideas as to how he wants us to play against every team,” he said.

“We really put in a good shift during our mini pre-season, so now everyone is ready for the resumption of the league.”

Maart is one of the players who will have to be at their best during the restart as one of the regulars and team leaders.

On the personal front, the 28-year-old wants to redeem himself and get back into the Bafana team after missing out on the bronze-winning squad.

“I just need to put more effort to make sure that I get goals. As a midfielder I should score in every game or assist,” Maart said.

“Also, as a captain, I need to put in more effort and show more desire… and uplift everyone around me who is feeling down.

“As the captain, I am trying to lead where I can (on and off the pitch) and other players are also leading where they can.”

‘It’s a big game, but we’re ready’

Thwihli Thwahla midfielder Kabelo Mahlasela had this to say about their game : “It’s our first game of the second (second round) season. Playing against Kaizer Chiefs, it’s a big game, (but) we are positive enough that we are ready as a club.

“I believe our players are mentally strong and ready. The supporters will be on our side as they will play a huge role. I believe that under pressure we work superbly.

“For you to be recognised you have to play against the best and you must do well against the best.

“It will be more of a tactical game, with their speedy players who are very quick in transitions whenever they win the ball.

“It’s very important for us to be very cautious, especially forward. When we lose the ball we need to be able to deal with any threat they pose.” |


IOL Sport

Additional reporting by Aphiwe Mthembu