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How Kaizer Chiefs' defensive frailties were exposed by SuperSport United

18:51 EAT 18/09/2022
Kaizer Chiefs team September
Amakhosi coach Arthur Zwane has admitted his side are not the finished product and there do seem to remain some areas for improvement

Kaizer Chiefs had to battle hard for their 2-1 win over SuperSport United and certainly remain a work in progress.

Having started the weekend hovering just above the relegation zone, it’s all about results at the moment for the Soweto giants.

But going forward, Chiefs need to find consistency if they want to climb back to the summit, and that includes their upcoming MTN8 semi-final matches against AmaZulu next month.

When sitting down to analyze the performance against SuperSport, and based on some previous games as well, there are a few issues which may concern the Amakhosi technical team.

Aerial balls into the Chiefs box

It was obvious from the start that SuperSport wanted to crowd Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and to get the ball into those difficult-to-deal-with areas just outside the six-yard box.

While Khune’s confidence has clearly been restored in recent weeks, he looked shaky when going for high balls and was lucky on at least one occasion - when Thulani Hlatshwayo headed wide of an empty net - after the Glamour Boys stopper had failed to deal with a ball into the box. At 2-0 down it would have been a very different game.

Khune is not as athletic as he once was and wasn’t getting much height on his jumps - nor showing much authority - and opposition teams are sure to target this apparent weakness as Gavin Hunt did.

Also with the Daniel Cardoso no longer with the club and Erick Mathoho barely playing, the Chiefs keeper - whoever he may be on the day - is not getting the same protection as before.

Centre-back uncertainty

Just when it had looked like Chiefs had found an ideal partnership in Zitha Kwinika and Njabulo Ngcobo, the two have started making costly errors.

Ngcobo made a howler in the MTN8 clash with Stellenbosch and it was Edmilson Dove who started for the first time alongside Kwinika at the FNB Stadium against Matsatsantsa.

Kwinika however has started to make some mistakes of his own.

There have been a couple now, including in the move which led to the SuperSport goal; where he looked clumsy while back-pedaling in order to try and mark a player and deal with a low cross at the same time – ending up deflecting the ball into the path of an opposition attacker to score.

It’s not major cause for concern yet, but Kwinika does not look quite the same cool and confident defender he was in his opening six or so games for Amakhosi. And with Ngcobo now on the bench, the partnership – so key in central defence – has been broken.

Silver lining – more options

Mathoho made a rare appearance off the bench on Saturday, Dove got his first minutes in a Chiefs jersey, Sifiso Hlanti has done well since returning a couple of weeks ago (although he was caught out by Ghampani Lungu for the cross which led to SuperSport’s goal), and Reeve Frosler, probably one of Amakhosi’s most reliable defenders, was on the bench on Saturday after recovering from injury.

So there are decent options for coaches Zwane and Dillon Sheppard; it’s a question of finding the best combinations and just tightening up a bit to cut out on individual errors and a couple of weak areas.