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Rudderless Chiefs lost in a sea of mediocrity against relegation candidates Swallows

Kaizer Chiefs’ Bernard Parker, Happy Mashiane, and Khama Billiat in action during their DStv Premiership match against Swallows FC at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs’ Bernard Parker, Happy Mashiane, and Khama Billiat in action during their DStv Premiership match against Swallows FC at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published May 22, 2022

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Cape Town — Kaizer Chiefs have arguably never looked more rudderless than on Saturday when they were lost in a sea of mediocrity against lowly Swallows, who have been relegation candidates for several weeks now.

After Chiefs were on the back foot for most of the afternoon, Swallows failed to exploit their scoring opportunities. According to Chiefs interim co-coach Arthur Zwane, Swallows were denied earlier in the game by superb goalkeeping from Bruce Bvuma.

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"Bruce kept us in the game (until they scored)," said Zwane. "We still could not raise our game because our midfielders were not working hard enough. In the second half, they had three corners in a space of 10minutes."

Swallows eventually finished with 11 corners against one from Chiefs. Another statistic that reflected the superiority of Swallows was the shots-at-goal count in which they were streets ahead at 18-6.

When Bvuma was finally beaten, midfielder Phathutshedzo Nange thought he would come to the team's rescue by stretching his arm to prevent Swallows' Mbulelo Wambi from scoring. There were a few moments of drama as referee Masixolo Bambiso pointed to the spot but then held up play for three minutes as if he was going to change his mind.

After deliberating with his assistants, Bambiso stood by his decision and red-carded Nange for a deliberate handball.

Bambiso made another penalty call a few minutes later and this time Njabulo Ngcobo was the guilty party. His outstretched hand blocked an overhead kick from Zambian striker Mwape Musonda, plumb in front of the Chiefs' goal. Referee Bambiso was spot-on on both counts.

Ngcobo, the hero turned villain, had earlier given his side the lead (against his former team) 20 minutes into the game and was one of the better Chiefs players on the day.

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Veteran Bernard Parker spared the side's blushes by scoring from a close-in free-kick which Swallows' keeper Jody February might have saved but when it took a wicked deflection, he was left grasping fresh air.

Chiefs' tactical inefficiency was evident for much of the game and Saturday's mediocre showing encapsulated their campaign this season. By halftime, Zwane said he sensed danger and warned his players about rising to the occasion.

"At half-time, we (the technical staff) told the players to stop playing the ball backwards," said Zwane. "They should try to think about going forward but then we concede the penalties. Those are the things letting us down in games where we should be collecting maximum points.

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"It has been a difficult one (season) and we made it difficult for ourselves today. I was even worried that we scored too early because we took our foot off the peddle and allowed Swallows to be on top.

"You could see the way they were attacking they could score at any given time."

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After the match, there was the usual fall-out from another calamitous performance. Most comments were directed at Chiefs' management, baying for Zwane's scalp. Many felt that despite his success previously with the club's youth teams, he is out of his depth at the Premiership level.

Perhaps Chiefs' management should take a page out of the books of some world-class clubs. Coaches taking care of the youth teams retain those positions for a long time because they have proved highly efficient at that level. When they attain success at the level, it does not necessarily call for them to take charge of the senior teams in the club.

Perhaps Zwane will be better suited to coach the development and youth teams. Apparently, his strength is knowing the Chiefs’ culture and maybe he can produce a future generation of players like Joseph ‘Banks’ Sethlodi, and Johannes ‘Ryder’ Mofokeng. Lucas ‘Rhoo’ Radebe or Doctor ‘16V’ Khumalo.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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