Johnson: We must break the pressure bubble somewhere

A dejected Dillan Solomons of Kaizer Chiefs reflects on their loss to Richards Bay. | BackpagePix

A dejected Dillan Solomons of Kaizer Chiefs reflects on their loss to Richards Bay. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 23, 2024



The pressure at Kaizer Chiefs has reached crushing depth, and coach Cavin Johnson has six games remaining in the DStv Premiership to bring it back to normality.

Everything about Chiefs has been belaboured this season, despite Johnson’s best efforts after the sacking of Molefi Ntseki in October. Not only have Chiefs defiled their tag of cup kings of South African football, by extending their barren run to nine seasons, but they do not inspire confidence.

A dejected Dillan Solomons of Kaizer Chiefs reflects on their loss to Richards Bay. | BackpagePix
Cavin Johnson. | BackpagePix

They lost their third league game in a row on Sunday, giving a lifeline to the relegation-threatened Richards Bay, instead of their own top-three aspirations. Chiefs are 10th on the log with their top-eight fate out of their hands as they trail the eighth-placed Chippa United by two points after 24 games.

Johnson has chosen to be positive, though, saying that it’s still possible for them to get out of the hole they put themselves in.

“I’ll never say goodbye (to their top-three hopes) until the last game. We as a team and technical team must push as hard as we can,” Johnson explained.

“That’s not out of our way. The players know that. It’s one major pressure but it’s the bubble that we are in now. We must break the pressure bubble somewhere.”

Kudos to Johnson for realising that no one is coming to save them. Chiefs have been their worst enemies during the rough patch.

They have been struggling to score despite creating chances.

Salim Magoola of Richards Bay. | BackpagePix

Richards Bay’s Salim Magoola scooped the player-of-the- match award in uMlazi as Chiefs’ attackers again huffed and puffed, while Bruce Bvuma conceded for the third time in succession.

Chiefs’ inability to score in the last four games has raised concerns about whether the players are suffering from a mental block, and Johnson said he wouldn’t know.

“In some moments, we are not psychologists, we are just football coaches. We must look at them and understand why this is happening,” he said.

“We need to understand why this isn’t working. Why are they not having fun.

“You try to work on it at training, creating free scoring opportunities so that they can feel it.

“But it’s still not happening. Maybe I need to take them for gun shooting or something like that. And they’ll be better. For now, we need to dig deep.”

Johnson will know a thing or two about guns. He shot himself – and the team – in the foot by not signing strikers during the January transfer window. But instead of taking accountability for his actions, he bemoans the fact that whatever they are working on in training is not paying off.

“As a coach, it’s devastating that we haven’t been scoring. It’s always difficult when that happens because your training is based around finishing,” he said.

“When you do that, you expect them to finish and score goals in football matches.

“I am sure you guys know what type of coach I am. Most coaches say the best defence wins you leagues, but I think differently: you’ve got to have the best crackers (attackers) to actually win the league.”

Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs. | BackpagePix

Chiefs have also struggled with leaders – the suspension of Itumeleng Khune being an example.

In the absence of senior players Khune, Keagan Dolly and Yusuf Maart, season debutant Given Msimango has been handed the task of captaining the team on the pitch.

“When you look at the team in its entirety, it’s a relatively young team. I think it’s only Itu that has been here for more than 20 years,” Johnson claimed.

“The other guys are all very young in the team. So it’s who they pick as their captains if that one is out.

“Keagan and Maart are injured, Itu is fighting to be match fit. Given is the next-best captain, even though I believe that in every club you’ve got to have 11 captains on the field, and not one.”