JOHANNESBURG – It isn’t just the Kaizer Chiefs rearguards that are having to work on improving their defensive duties. Midfielder Siphelele Ntshangase said he too has been asked to help out.
“This is all new to me because I am not used to playing this role,” he said this week as Amakhosi were preparing to host SuperSport United in the second leg of their MTN8 semi-final at FNB Stadium tonight (8.15pm kickoff).
“When I used to play football in the township I would play everywhere, but being asked to be a No 8, join the attack when we have the ball and then assist in defending when we don’t have possession is a challenge. But I am working with the coach at training every day.”
The Chiefs defence in particular has come under the spotlight since coach Giovanni Solinas took over this season. He has emphasised his desire to see the Glamour Boys playing attractive football and complementing that with goals.
But the Italian seems to have paid little attention to the backline, and the irony is that he has asked Ntshangase, an attack-minded midfielder, to help in a department Chiefs haven’t done so well in since Solinas has been in charge.
“There is a lot that I really have to improve on. In terms of keeping the shape, sometimes you will find that I am not in the right position. We are working on that with the coach in training. I hope that every day I will improve,” said Ntshangase.
The player is also having to get used to the fact that he is now a regular at Chiefs having spent his first six months at the club being used sparingly, if at all.
Asked if Steve Komphela, who resigned in April and replaced by Solinas late in July, ever explained why this was the case, Ntshangase suggested it was because he needed time to work on the very same elements the new coach is helping him with now.
“I think what the coach wanted, which is something I lacked, was to defend. I can honestly say I have improved.
“I am more confident now because I am playing more. I don’t play under pressure because I always know what I must do. If we don’t have the ball then I have to help out in defence,” he explained.
Solinas has all but confirmed that Ntshangase will be one of the first names in his starting line-up at Chiefs, singing his praises a few weeks ago.
The coach said that Ntshangase is a player he admires and was willing to work tirelessly to ensure his partnership with Willard Katsande in central midfield is one of two players who play to each other’s strengths.
“I don’t think he was an important player for Chiefs last season. This season he has already played a lot and played well,” the coach said.
“He is a young player, coming from Black Leopards in the first division and now at Chiefs – a different environment. It’s another dimension here. Ntshangase is a very good player in my opinion.
“Yes, he needs to improve defensively, but he is a talent – good passes and creativity. I am happy with him.”