George Dearnaly

Chiefs lack central playmaker

2007-12-11 12:48

I've been to a few Kaizer Chiefs games lately, and watching a game "live" gives you a much better perspective than watching on TV.

Firstly, the TV cannot give you a full view of the field for 90 minutes, and so you cannot see the big picture of the two opposing sets of players. This means you only get a snapshot of the tactics and the formation as the game progresses.

Secondly, the TV seldom picks up the 'third man' running. This is the man off the ball, who is running into space to receive a possible pass. The TV camera often focuses on the man in possession, and follows the pass to the receiver, thus ignoring that 'third man'.

But when you are at the match, you can see the formations, the off-the-ball runs and you also get a sense of the mood of the supporters as the game unfolds.

Chiefs are the biggest supported team in South Africa. They have 'home' support at every match, and are one of the best sponsored teams in Africa, meaning they have the cash to afford the best local players.

They also have almost every single talented local youngster begging to play for them, so first choice in the youth market is also something they head the queue in.

But they have failed to set the league alight lately. Their recent Telkom Knockout victory was a rare success in the last few seasons, but winning via a penalty shootout is also not the way the Chiefs supporters want to get their hands on silverware.

The clubs history of great players means that the fans demand success with flair. And it is this one quality that I think is severely lacking in their current team.

There are hard working players and hard tackling players but there are few flair players. Tinashe Nengomasha is a tough-as-teak ball winning central midfielder, but apart from the veteran Thabo Mooki, Chiefs have no-one who can 'thread a needle' - craft a through ball for the strikers.

They rely heavily on getting aerial balls up to Shaun Bartlett to flick on for the other front runners, or their two wingers getting in crosses, but Chiefs has always been a team to play through the middle.

Whether it was the great Ace Ntsoelengoe, or Ace Khuse, Doctor Khumalo, Chippa Molatedi or Shoes Moshoeu, the strikers were always serviced from skilful midfield players who carved open opposition defences. Chiefs need a player like that urgently.

Pirates have Modise, Sundowns have Moriri - but Chiefs have nothing in this category. Although coach Ertugral has done well to bolster their defence and stop them conceding goals, until he gets a creative player to start dictating terms in the middle of the park, his strikers will have to feed off scraps and they will continue to be toothless.

And the mood of the supporters has changed. It is only a matter of time before they will be calling for the coaches head - Knockout trophy and all!

Pathetic patriots

A small mention of the mindless feedback I sometimes get from people who can only be described as pathetic patriots. I choose to write about football - all football - and won't always comment on the hottest topic of the day, be it local or international.

But it seems that every time I chose to write about the English Premiership, there are some local soccer fans who think I should emigrate! Get a life you saps.

We can learn from the better leagues around the World, and there are a vast number of Africans playing in Europe hence the interest. If your small minds want to stick to only watching local football, go for it.

But let the rest of us watch, and write about, all football. And I didn't see any of you at the last 4 local matches I was at... pay your money at the gate or shut up.

Chelsea backlash!

I knew it. As soon as I finished writing last week's column - and giving Chelsea a deserved pat on the pack - a voice told me that I would be hammered from all angles.

A fair amount of backlash was served. Henk ten Cate, the former Ajax Amsterdam man, has been influential on the training ground, and in getting the players' confidence back up, and in getting consistent performances out of them week in and week out.

But I have a very good spy in the camp, who swears Avram has surprised everyone in the squad by being his own man. He makes the decisions, after consultation with his coaching staff, and he deserves the credit.

But I promise not to give them any more punts...

  • George is the associate publisher of Kick Off magazine and represented South Africa during the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

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