/ 13 September 2019

Amakhosi eye long reign on top

Rising high: Kaizer Chiefs have surprised many soccer fans with their near-perfect start to the Premier Soccer League season.
Rising high: Kaizer Chiefs have surprised many soccer fans with their near-perfect start to the Premier Soccer League season.



It may be clever to wound a giant, but it is foolish to believe that it will never rise again. Kaizer Chiefs have not only begun the 2019/2020 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season with the zest and charisma they so dearly missed last season, they have also surprised many with a near perfect start to their campaign.

Amakhosi opened the PSL with two wins from two games against Highlands Park and Black Leopards, but the argument that surfaced was that these two sides were not an adequate test. To stifle critics they picked up four points from the next two games — they drew against the impressive Supersport United and rocked Benni McCarthy’s Cape Town City in Slaapstad.

With their best start to a campaign in five years, Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo is confident about the season ahead, saying that he hopes they can maintain this run. But to do it, they must keep displaying the same hunger.

Khumalo is aware that many of the problems Amakhosi faced last season persist, and said improvement is still needed.

“Last season, they lost too many points at home. They cannot afford that. It also affected their away form. So they need to maintain their home form and just get points on the road, because any point away is a point gained,” he said.

One important factor the club lacked was a decisive goal-scorer: midfielder Khama Billiat managed only five goals in the PSL last season. Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic might still be wetting his boots with Chiefs after arriving fresh from Eastern Europe, but he is showing signs that he might just be the man who ripples opposition nets regularly this season.

Nurkovic has contributed a goal and an assist thus far and club legend Ace Khuse attributes part of the Glamour Boys’ successful kick-off to Nurkovic’s steady start.

“Samir is skilful, a good header of the ball; he can play with his feet and he is strong, and what more can you ask for?

“What I like about him is that he works hard, you can see the fire and hunger in his eyes that he wants to score goals for the team,” Khuse said.

Former Bafana Bafana defender Matthew Booth also said the Serbian has been the standout player so far, but believes that the return of defender Eric Mathoho and midfielder Lebogang Manyama, who were absent for most of the last season, have benefited the Sowetan side greatly.

Khumalo holds this squad in high regard and expects a lot from them. “With the team they possess, I wouldn’t even be going for second or third. They should win the title,” he said.

But while Booth said that it is always good for the league to have Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fighting at the top of the table, they should be mindful of the fact that the league is a marathon.