Sunday, 24 January 2016

Woodwork lesson for Kaizer Chiefs: a rare defeat as Sundowns and Wits move smoothly on

Never smile at a crocodile: Rodgers, super-sub
SLOWLY but surely, Kaizer Chiefs were mounting a meaningful defence of their PSL title. Last week they needed a dodgy penalty to sneak past Bloemfontein Celtic. On Sunday, Platinum Stars hit the woodwork THREE times but appeared to be about to succumb by the same 1-0 scoreline.

It took a Camaldine Abraw header to best Cavin Johnson’s crocodiles in Cape Town, where nearly 20,000 turned up at the AmaKhosi’s second home.

With Mpumalanga Black Aces, the PSL’s Leicester City, slipping up at AmaTuks, Chiefs were looking to close the gap to just two points on the top three.

Then Eleazar Rodgers appeared off the bench. Minutes later, Johnson was celebrating a first Dikwena win over Chiefs in NINE YEARS. A stunning turnabout nearly left the verbose Steve Komphela speechless.

But not quite. After suffering just his SECOND league defeat all season, Komphela said: “When you look at the chances we had, this should not have happened.

“Results are all that matters. This was about concentration, a lack of ruthlessness, mentality. Their goalkeeper was Man of the Match again. That says it all.”

His rival Johnson could hardly believe it: “Kaizer Chiefs were unlucky. I gave Rodgers a chance and God was on my side.”

Rodgers, a Cape Town lad back playing on his home ground, laughed: "I've been out of the team for two games. Coach made me sit down after I'd warmed up, then I went on and did the business. I'm just so happy to do this here, to get three points for the coach."

The pressure on Komphela is huge, though he remains a lot more secure than his Soweto rival Eric Tinkler after Orlando Pirates lost to Jomo Cosmos. Steve still has a two-pronged problem: how to overhaul Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns, both convincing winners over the weekend.

On Friday night, the irony was obvious. James Keene, the English journeyman who trialled with Chiefs a year ago, produced a goal-poacher’s hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Polokwane City. Stuart Baxter recommended a contract for Keene, but Chiefs Football Manager Bobby Motaung failed to act.

Baxter, who left Chiefs after their record-breaking title triumph last season, recommended Keene to Gavin Hunt, and with four goals in three games, he has made an immediate impact.

Pitso Mosimane, unbeaten in 20 with Masandawana, put another nail in Gordon Igesund’s SuperSport United coffin to maintain his side’s place at the top of the table.

Komphela’s men may have been diligent with the woodwork lessons at Cape Town and they were ultimately Rodgered but their challenge remains significant. The fact that Camaldine Abraw’s slightly fortunate header takes him to TWO this season (half of Keene’s tally) highlights the problems Chiefs have in putting away weaker opposition.

Though they have depth and talent - Willard Katsande, Itumeleng Khune and Siyanda Xulu are quite a non-starting trio - Chiefs struggle to score goals, unlike Wits and Sundowns.

The social networks were abuzz when Abraw scored on Sunday without the need for a penalty or a helpful referee … but their failure to add a killer second goal was always going to result in nails being bitten.

The truth is, Bobby Motaung’s failure to sign Keene when he promised Baxter he would will haunt him for the second half of the season.

The final words from Komphela: “What can I do about missed chances? How can I change it?” There’s an obvious answer. Sign a striker who knows where the goal is.

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