Kaizer Chiefs will be looking to avenge their loss to arch-rivals Orlando Pirates when the two sides meet in a much-anticipated Telkom knockout semi-finals Soweto derby clash, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
After being tactically outwitted in the first Soweto derby of the 2018-19 campaign in a 2-1 loss to Pirates, courtesy of goals by Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule, expect Giovanni Solinas’ side to come out guns blazing in a bid to not only put an end to Pirates’ recent dominance over them, but more importantly to book their spot in the Telkom Knockout Cup final.
If Amakhosi are to defeat the Buccaneers, they will need to learn from their most recent outing against the Buccaneers, while also playing to their strengths
1) Getting the combinations right:
Key to victory for Chiefs against Milutin Sredojevic’s side will be to ensure that their spine is solid. Solinas will need to ensure that his selections in central defence, central-midfield and upfront are all correct.
Last time around, the central-defensive pairing of Mario Booysen and Siyabonga Ngezana was in shambles, with Augustine Mulenga, Justin Shonga and Vincent Pule completely dominating in the Chiefs final third, despite having secured victory from a goal down.
In midfield, Willard Katsande gave Chiefs a much-needed bite, but wasn’t given adequate support by partner Siphelele Ntshangase. Chiefs’ midfield bossed the game in phases, but were unable to dictate the midfield for longer stages as counterparts Ben Mosthwari and Xola Mlambo did.
The introduction of the industrious George Maluleka is needed, or a change of formation where Chiefs operate with three in the engine room.
In attack, Solinas has a number of options, but should go with the tried and tested trio of Dumisani Zuma, Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro, with the former Mamelodi Sundowns duo’s telepathic understanding integral to Chiefs’ attacking cause. Bernard Parker and Lebogang Manyama could provide impetus off the bench.
2) Playing to their strengths
Solinas needs to be smart in his approach to the game. The Italian mentor is attempting to instill a nice brand of football to Amakhosi and has succeeded in bits and parts.
When facing Pirates, Solinas needs to realise that they are up against a team whose philosophy is similar in nature to theirs, with Pirates having had the benefit of more time under Micho and Rulani Mokwena.
Solinas needs to acknowledge that Chiefs’ biggest strength lies in the final third, where in-chief-destroyer Billiat plays. I’m not necessarily saying that they should completely abandon building up from the back, but rather properly utilise the strengths of your men upfront. Castro has been majorly under-utilised by Chiefs to the point that he seems a shadow of his former self, and he isn’t the only one.
Chiefs need to do a lot more meticulous and thorough planning with at least three plans in place in case plan A does not work out.
3) Vincent Pule:
While football tacticians often frown upon devising plans for individuals within a team, Chiefs would be foolish not to give special attention to the man who scored the winner on his Soweto derby debut.
The concerning thing for Chiefs is that not only is Pule enjoying himself as never before, but he is also performing like never before. His current season statistics are a career-best (three assists, five goals and 14 appearances) in all competitions.
Not only have his eye-catching performances been integral to Bucs’ early excellent start, but the former Bidvest Wits star has since been rewarded with a number of national team call-ups, most recently featuring in Bafana Bafana’1 1-1 draw against Paraguay in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.
Pule’s confidence will be sky-high, knowing that he has done the business against Chiefs before, so the onus will be on Solinas’ Chiefs to try and minimise his threat.
Photo: Gallo Images
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