Throughout last season Kaizer Chiefs were hit by a number of injuries to key men. If they are going to improve this campaign, they will not only need those players back and firing but will have to keep them all fit. DEAN WORKMAN explores.
Itumeleng Khune, Lebogang Manyama, Joseph Malongoane and Eric Mathoho, just to name a few, missed large portions of the 2018-19 season through injury.
Chiefs thus promoted youngsters Happy Mashiane and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, who then also suffered season-ending injuries.
This meant that coach Ernst Middendorp had to constantly chop and change his lineups, which led to inconsistency due to the lack of continuity.
Speaking during the buildup to the season, Middendorp highlighted this exact point as he hopes to not have the same issues this time around.
‘The main priority is to get these [key] players to the maximum level of performance of what they can contribute,’ Middendorp said.
‘We have to find a certain “core”, that’s important for us. Let’s say seven, eight players, we had to ask, “Are they playing or not?” It wasn’t possible. There were a lot of parameters that we couldn’t influence. A very clear structure for us is to find eight-plus players who we are not talking about changing, they are the backline, centre-midfield and forward players.
‘And they should have the right attitude, direction and leadership abilities of where we want to go and do. But that was not possible for us [last season].’
Key to any success in football is to have a solid core of players who are able to turn out and perform constantly week in and week out, and last season injuries prevented Amakhosi from achieving this.
If Chiefs are to be successful this season they will need to identify this core group of players, with Middendorp already singling out the returning Khune, Manyama and Mathoho as a part of that group. Then they will need to ensure they remain fit for the duration of the season or else they could face a repeat of the 2018-19 campaign.
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