JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs’ performance against Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup tomorrow afternoon will set the tone for the team next season.
Those were the sentiments of Chiefs’ midfielder George Maluleka as the team head into their last and arguably most demanding test of the pre-season.
Pre-season is used to plan for the upcoming term, while all players start on a clean slate. And once a team faces hurdles in that preliminary stage of the season, they are bound to struggle. That was the case when Chiefs spent the better part of the last pre-season without then coach Giovanni Solinas, who was registered on the eve of their Premiership opener. They crumbled just before the Christmas break.
Enter Ernst Middendorp in December. The German steered the team to ninth place, while the club’s barren run extended to four seasons. With Middendorp having marshalled his team’s pre-season, there seems to be a breath of fresh air at Naturena.
“It’s always very important to prepare from the start to finish, with the same goal and vision,” Maluleka stated. “The guys are very focused and we’ve had a lot of meetings (about what needs to be done next season) and obviously with a lot of sessions. But the goal, mission and vision are very clear. So, our preparations have been going very well.”
There will not be a better opposition for Chiefs to test their readiness for the new campaign than against Pirates, in front of a sold-out crowd at the FNB Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off)
“It’s always a big one,” Maluleka said. “I’ll always say it until there’s no friendly match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Obviously, it’s very difficult because we are still preparing for the season but one needs to give it their all.
This will obviously set the tone for the new season and for us, it gives our supporters the extra confidence booster because they’ve had a say in it. As a player that they’ve chosen, you’ll go out and perform for that.”
Carling Black Label Cup Media Open Day— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) July 24, 2019
The Glamour Boys preparing for Saturday's clash at FNB Stadium.
Do you have your new jersey and tickets ready?#CarlingCup #Amakhosi4Life pic.twitter.com/S4R3Z4m2nN
The starting line-ups for Chiefs and Pirates were voted by the public, and the supporters will select the first two substitutes via Twitter feeds.
Amakhosi attacker Lazarous Kambole is the only newbie from either side to have made the starting line-up, which is unsurprising because the Zambian international comes to the PSL following impressive exploits for Zesco United.
Should Chiefs’ supporters vote to see the three other newbies, Samir Nurkovic, Kearyn Baccus and James Kotei, in the second half, Maluleka is positive they’d be in for a treat.
“If you look at the signings that we brought in, they are experienced guys. They are all quality players. They come from different background. Samir and Kambole are goal-scorers, Kotei is impeccable with his tackling and passing.”@Mihlalibaleka