Kaizer Chiefs’ conundrum

2014-11-16 15:05

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Kaizer Chiefs might be caught in an unpleasant club-versus-country debacle ahead of their clash against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

Just a few days after midfielder May Mahlangu shunned national duty, Amakhosi could be made to pay for honouring the Bafana Bafana call-up. The league leaders have five players in the Bafana squad.

The national team is expected to return from ­Nigeria on Friday, meaning Chiefs will have five of their key players away until the eve of the crucial league ­encounter against Sundowns.

This will leave coach Stuart Baxter with a massive headache over whether to consider Brilliant ­Khuzwayo, Tefu Mashamaite, Eric Mathoho, ­Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Mandla Masango for selection against the Brazilians.

While Chiefs have in the past recalled players from the national team, this time they have no option – it is an obligatory Confederation of African Football fixture.

What is worse is that Chiefs’ opponents, Sundowns, have only two players on international duty – Themba Zwane in the Bafana team and Kennedy Mweene for Zambia – and will be at full strength in the clash at FNB Stadium.

Chiefs might feel hard done by over this turn of events – the Bafana call-up means Baxter would not have had his key players for two weeks before the clash. The five have been key in Chiefs’ ­unbeaten season in the league so far.

And if Downs are the first team to break their rhythm, Amakhosi could easily point fingers at the national team.

Last season, Downs went to FNB and stole three points with Teko Modise’s fortuitous goal. Downs will also want to get their campaign back on track after they drew against both Chippa United and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Pitso Mosimane knows a victory for Chiefs would widen the gap and it would be nearly impossible for the defending champions to catch them.

Supporters shudder to think what Mosimane’s comment would be if he could become the first coach to stop the Chiefs’ train.

Meanwhile, after initially struggling in the elite league, the arrival of Roger Sikhakhane seems to be the tonic Chippa United needed.

Chippa is yet to lose a league game since Sikhakhane and Floyd Mogale joined forces after the departure of Kosta Papic in September.

Many would not have bet on seeing them occupying the second spot after 10 games.

Two back-to-back victories away from home against Bidvest Wits and Free State Stars have also helped Polokwane City move away from the relegation zone – but only just. It took Papic some time to settle in at City, but they seem to have recovered from their stuttering start. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu.

Swallows last tasted victory in August, while Usuthu are still to win a league game this season – the only side still without victory.

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