Chiefs switch focus to league

2007-12-05 00:00

KAIZER Chiefs have the R4,25-million Telkom Knockout in the bag and now turn their attentions towards the Premier Soccer League, starting with their fixture against AmaZulu at King’s Park in Durban tonight.

After AmaZulu, Chiefs have four matches to play in the next 17 days before the PSL breaks for nearly two months over the period of the African Nations Cup in Ghana — against Santos in Cape Town, Lamontville Golden Arrows in Pretoria, Bloemfontein Celtic away and Black Leopards at home.

And coach Muhsin Ertugral wants his team, currently languishing in a dismal 13th, to pick up as many points as possible to be in a position to launch a challenge for the league title after the break. “Let’s face it, whatever the glamour associated with cup glory, it is the league championship that is considered the pedigreed and most prized title wherever soccer is played. And that is the one I am chasing at Chiefs,” Ertugral said.

“It is important that the guys put the cup final triumph behind them, but use the win as a source of motivation for the four matches that we have ahead of us in December.”

Chiefs are counting the cost of 120 minutes of competitive football in the Telkom final against Sundowns on Saturday, which ended 0-0 and was settled by a penalty shootout. Striker Shaun Bartlett and key defensive midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha both picked up their third yellow cards in the final and are suspended, while Thabo Mooki picked up an injury. Bartlett also has severe swelling on his left leg, but should be back for Sunday’s game against Santos.

“Not having these players with us is not the best position to be in. We know the value they add to our team; it is always good to have a hard-working player like Tinashe, the experience of Thabo and Shaun’s presence up-front gives us a massive advantage,” Ertugral said.

“[But] In a season it is going to be part of the process that you will lose players through injuries and suspensions. That is why you need to have a back-up plan and we do, and the other guys now have to make the most of the chance that has come their way.”

The coach knows that his team will have to be on their guard against an AmaZulu side who have had some impressive results in a promising start to the season, not least of which their 1-0 win over Platinum Stars away in Rustenburg two fixtures ago.

Ninth-placed AmaZulu, who have an experienced coaching staff of Clive Barker, assistant Joel Faya and goalkeeper-coach Graham Johnson, have also been solidifying their administrative structure after their financial troubles of last season.

AmaZulu PRO Philani Mabaso said the team will be looking to return from their 1-0 defeat at home against league leaders Ajax Cape Town last week. “Apart from our long-term injuries we have only defender Pere Ariweriyai out suspended. It is our home game, so we are confident of taking the three points.”

Both Telkom finalists are in action tonight, with Sundowns hosting struggling Black Leopards at

Loftus.

Tonight: (both start at 7.30 pm)

Mamelodi Sundowns v Black Leopards, (Loftus — live on SuperSport 3), AmaZulu v Kaizer Chiefs (King’s Park).

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