Chiefs determined to bring home a crown

One swift derby blow was all it took to leave Kaizer Chiefs staggering on their league feet. Four points behind Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and eight points behind favourites Sundowns, things are looking glum in that regard.

Fittingly, the grey skies opened as rain steadily streamed down all of Thursday morning to greet Steve Komphela and his players. This will be the last training session in the compound at Naturena before they catch a flight to Durban on Saturday afternoon to take on Stellenbosch FC in the Nedbank Cup last 16.

Neither last weekend nor the weather did much to dampen the hunger of the team, however. The mood is strong. This is a team that’s desperate to hoist silverware this term and have earmarked Saturday as the first step on the best path to doing so.

In fact, if you’re Komphela you haven’t even given up on the league.

“Logically, chances are still there,” he said just before training kicked off.

“You have to still remain optimistic, only pessimists would give in. Even if we were equal on points, and there would be a question of goal difference – we would still remain optimistic. But as is, 21 points to go for, it’s still possible, that’s how we look at it. As professionals, we have to keep doing our job.”

While games against National First Division sides in the Nedbank Cup are often viewed as prime time to blood some youngsters and conduct a couple tactical experiments, Amakhosi may not follow tradition. The tournament could be the last chance saloon for a trophy and the team may be loath to tinker too much lest consistency be disturbed.

“Let’s say you reshuffle too much … the same thing happened with Klopp at Liverpool. He went in and reshuffled his team, they played well and were on the verge of winning that match and then drew it. He had to face the music. So it’s a question of do I freshen up the team so that I give opportunities to others? Brilliant idea. If it backfires, you must account. So it’s a question of not knowing what’s going to happen, but you still have your wishes. It would be nice if everybody got a chance,” Komphela said. 

Defender Daniel Cardoso was blunt that the Glamour Boys’ need to bring a trophy home to the fans.

“Us [his generation] and the youngsters below us need to learn that this is a team that wins trophies,” he said. “Two-and-a-half years without a trophy is quite a poor run for us and we need to change that around. We keep saying that we will but everytime the chance comes around we keep failing. Hopefully this time we can turn it around and win this Nedbank Cup.”

For Cardoso, the biggest mistake they could make would be to think that Stellenbosch will just lie down for a walkover.

“We played them last season in the last 32 and we beat them 3-0. They’re not a walkover – they went into the playoffs last season. Any team that comes up against Chiefs, no matter what team it is, they’re always going to fight. If they beat us it’s a big feeling for them because they have beaten one of the best teams in South Africa. We’re not going to take it as an easy game, it’s another chance for us to step up and win a trophy.”

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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