Monday, 10 March 2014

The trouble with a treble: Kaizer Chiefs fighting on three fronts with VV and the Soweto Derby looming

Knowledge is Power: Musona celebrates
STUART BAXTER’s task becomes clearer – but trickier – every week. The closer the Kaizer Chiefs head coach gets to his goals, the darker the clouds will get. That's the trouble with a treble, even when you're on a 17-game unbeaten streak.

Yes, his on-loan Zimbabwean goal-poacher Knowledge Musona thumped home a first-half hat-trick in Maputo on Saturday – not that any of the local broadcasters bothered to televise the AmaKhosi’s emphatic 3-0 win against Liga Muculmana – and Baxter’s men cruised through to the second round 7-0 on aggregate.

But on Sunday, our Chiefs were greeted by news of an unwelcome trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo when AS Vita saw off Zimbabwe’s own “Glamour Boys” Dynamos 1-0 in Kinshasa after a goalless first leg in Harare.

The Knowledge hat-trick, missed by SABC and SuperSport, is HERE!

We all remember the last time a South African side went to the DRC on Champions League duty. Orlando Pirates went through hell at TP Mazembe at the same stage last year, with television black-outs, detained journalists, bogus red cards and TWO dodgy penalties.

But hey, Pirates survived and went on to the Group Stages and that stirring African Champions League final defeat against Al Ahly. And who’s to say Kaizer Chiefs can’t do the same?

Sure, the ankle ligaments twisted by Bafana Bafana’s No1 Itumeleng Khune won’t help matters, but they’ve got back-up. Former Nike talent search winner Reyaad Pieterse has been strong in Africa, earning the nickname “David James” (after the former England and Liverpool goalkeeper) and failing that, Baxter can turn to former AmaZulu stopper Brilliant Khuzwayo, who cut his teeth in the Under 23 national squad.

But now, with that trip to the DRC to come, Baxter must attend to his domestic duties. The Nedbank Cup has to be defended – and so does the PSL title after last season’s double in a glorious first season at Naturena for Wolverhampton-born “Mbax”.

Despite that six point lead at the top of the table, Baxter won’t be taking Alan Freese and his Platinum Stars for granted tomorrow (Wednesday) night at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Dikwena already have the MTN8 and Telkom KO in the bag this season, under-estimate them at your peril.

And then, the Soweto Derby on Saturday. Hold everything. The Ides of March put paid to Julius Caesar a few thousand years ago and arch-rivals Pirates have two potential back-stabbers: Serbian coach Vladimir Vermecovic is ready to use his shiny new work permit and Bafana striker Lehlonololo Majoro can hardly score less than his peers at arch-rivals Pirates.

As we said last week here, the presence of those two former Chiefs employess alone promises a lively derby at Soccer City, regardless of the Buccaneers’ limp 1-0 defeat against AmaTuks over the weekend.

With East London's Buffalo to come in the Nedbank Cup and both Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns closing the gap at the top of the table, Baxter knows how difficult it will be to maintain that unbeaten run – which dates back to November 5 and the start of my current beard – on three fronts.

He grins: “We were so professional in Maputo, it’s hard when you go into a game winning 4-0 but we kept our motivation and concentration.

“We changed the way we normally play, we wanted to make it a test. We played with the 3 centre backs in case we want to use that when we are on the road in the rest of Africa. Our plan worked perfectly.

"Ask a big club anywhere in the world about their ambition and the answer will be the same. We are an ambitious club. Like other big clubs we go into each tournament to win.”

 Can they compete on three fronts? Can any big club? Yes. You can do just about anything when you've got a form guide reading WWWWWWWWWDDWWWW. 

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