‘Chiefs playing with confidence’

2010-10-25 00:00

AFTER another dominant display to begin their title defence of the Telkom Knockout with a 2-0 first round victory over AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night, coach Vladimir Vermezovic says he is pleased with the confidence being displayed by his team this season.

Chiefs’ victory against an AmaZulu side who were disappointingly weak in the first half completed a successful raid by Soweto’s giants on KZN on Saturday. Orlando Pirates put in a convincing display to snuff out dangerous Lamontville Golden Arrows 1-0 at Chatsworth Stadium earlier in the afternoon.

Chiefs were full value for their money, especially in a first half where they began assertively, and grew in strength to end rampant against a rapidly capitulating Usuthu defence.

Amakhosi’s goals were scored in the 41st and 44th minutes by Abia Nale and Reneilwe Letsholonyane. To their credit, Usuthu showed character to compose themselves in the second half, but by that stage Chiefs were prepared to tighten up and defend their two-goal cushion.

Vermezovic said it was not his instruction for Chiefs to switch to a more cautious counter-attacking game after their rampant first half.

“Especially in the first 45 minutes we played our game with short passes and quick changes of position and we scored two goals,” the Serbian said.

“I didn’t say at half-time that we have to play the counter-attack. But it’s our third game in seven days. The players were satisfied with 2-0; they got comfortable and they decided to play like that.

“We will talk about that, but never mind — we started on a high level defending our title and we will see.”

While Chiefs have played neat, stylish football going forward this season, it has been their defence that has been most impressive, conceding three goals in nine games.

“There is no secret. We have the same players from last season. Probably the biggest problem before was confidence,” Vermezovic said.

“Now they play with more confidence. They know now that I am the kind of person that, when they make a mistake, I’m not going to shout at them.

“We have three players at central defender [Valery Nahayo, Thomas Sweswe and Dominic Isaacs] who we have rotated and all three have played well. I hope that [left-back] Punch Masanamela can return nicely but right now Jimmy Jambo is in front of him.

“But it’s a nice atmosphere in our team right now and nobody is angry because he doesn’t play.”

While Chiefs have looked good going forward, they have at times been wasteful in front of goal, and this was the case against AmaZulu again.

“It’s maybe an area where we have shown weaknesses,” Vermezovic admitted. “We’re working on that but it’s very difficult to fix something that the players didn’t learn in development.

“Normally a senior coach uses players, and doesn’t have to teach them something. For me it’s most important that we create opportunities.

“Maybe it’s also that I’m a coach who likes to play very quickly in the attacking third and with that speed mistakes are possible. I like to score from the first touch, like ‘Yeye’ [Letsholonyane] did today, but without confidence my players like to receive the ball and then play. There should be no time for that.”

For new AmaZulu coach Manqoba Mngqithi, this was a fifth game without a win since his side’s sole victory in their league opener against Maritzburg United.

“We looked a bit timid and gave away a lot of space. We did get a few instances from set pieces where I thought we deserved better. But on the whole Chiefs tried hard and they were hungrier than us,” the coach said.

Chiefs will miss scorer and midfield kingpin Letsholonyane, who picked up a third yellow card, in their league match against champions SuperSport United in Tshwane on Sunday, along with currently injured star left-wing Siphiwe Tshabalala.

“Yeye is a Bafana Bafana player and he knows my opinion about Tshabalala, [Itumleng] Khune and himself. They must be the motor in this team,” Vermezovic said.

“Against SuperSport we will miss two of them but we still have a third one — Khune will be there.”

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