Top-eight stars start to align for Kaizer Chiefs ahead of TS Galaxy clash
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JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs' DStv Premiership top eight fate is in their hands. They must beat TS Galaxy in their last league game this afternoon at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, to achieve that feat.
A fortnight ago Chiefs appeared down and out. They succumbed to recently relegated side Black Leopards, keeping the gap between them and the eighth-placed Galaxy to five points ahead of the penultimate round of the season.
The loss to Lidoda Duvha had dire consequences for Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt who was dismissed two days later, following the team’s turbulent outing in domestic football. Hunt’s assistants Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard were appointed as interim coaches.
The duo sat for their first game in charge against Golden Arrows at home on Wednesday. The hoodoo of conceding first and subsequently losing the match appeared to be following them as Michael Gumede drew first blood for Abafana Bes’thende away from home.
But Chiefs’ response was swift, Lebogang Manyama scoring the equaliser before an own goal from Eric Mathoho. Zwane and Sheppard proved that they are master tacticians in waiting, introducing Nkosingiphile Ngcobo who twice assisted Manyama to score.
That win restored Chiefs’ aspirations of finishing in the top eight, as Galaxy, Baroka FC and Bloemfontein Celtic stuttered after a draw to Stellenbosch and losses to Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns respectively. And that’s why Chiefs cannot afford to slip up today.
Between the sticks, Bruce Bvuma has been a breath of fresh air, donning the No 1 jersey ahead of Daniel Akpeyi. But the Bafana Bafana international cannot afford to concede first against the Rockets as that will demand more from him and his team’s striking contingent.
An early goal for Chiefs will allow them to settle their nerves. And that’s why the likes of Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro will have to bring their scoring boots. It is, however, Manyama who’s high on confidence following that hattrick against Arrows at home.
Match Day!— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) June 5, 2021
⚽️TS Galaxy vs. Kaizer Chiefs
🗓️Saturday 05 June 2021
📺 SuperSport EURO 2020 (203)
📢NO FANS ALLOWED INSIDE OR OUTSIDE THE STADIUM!!!!
📢Top 8️⃣#Amakhosi4Life #BabizeBonke pic.twitter.com/KUxMlrxljD
With the right positioning and exploitation of pocket spaces, Manyama can be a menace on his day. His passes made Chiefs tick last season when they lost the title on the last day of the season under coach Ernst Middendorp.
Do not expect Galaxy to sit back and let Chiefs run all over them. Their coach Owen Da Gama is hoping to lead the team to their maiden top eight finish after buying the status of Highlands Park last season. Da Gama inspired Highlands to the MTN8 final in 2019.
Meanwhile, Chiefs’ arch-rivals Orlando Pirates do not have the same pressure – of having to win their match against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila – in order to reach the Promised Land, a thirdplace finish on the log standings. They just need a draw from that match.
Defeat for Arrows against Stellies could also ensure that Pirates finish third, behind champions Sundowns and runners-up AmaZulu, and qualify for the Confederation Cup next term. That could keep coach Josef Zinnbauer's job safe until the next campaign.
The German mentor is beleaguered after a roller-coaster outing this season. His team started on a high note, winning the MTN8 competition. But after stuttering early this year, the wheels came off as Pirates lost out on the league, Nedbank Cup and Confederation Cup.