Kaizer Chiefs head into their first game in the CAF Champions League group stage with little improvement in their form, following a draw with SuperSport United, which extended Amakhosi’s winless run to six games.
The Glamour Boys will return to FNB Stadium on Tuesday to host the vastly experienced Horoya AC of Guinea in their Group C encounter.
Chiefs’ recent form has not demonstrated that they can punch with the best in Africa, while Horoya are so good that they were quarterfinalists in the competition in 2018 and 2019.
In their clash against Matsatsantsa a Pitori yesterday, Chiefs failed to hold on to the lead that Reeve Frosler gave them on the half-hour mark.
United equalised in the 67th minute through a penalty from Bradley Grobler. This after Chiefs defender Anthony Akumu tugged Thamsanqa Gabuza’s shirt off, which warranted the penalty.
With his successful conversion from the spot kick, Grobler has now scored against Chiefs in the past four consecutive games and currently leads the DStv Premiership golden boot race with 13 goals.
Amakhosi have been unable to beat second-placed Matsatsantsa a Pitori, having lost 2-1 in their first-round clash in December.
The last time Chiefs beat United was in 2018, with a 1-0 result, courtesy of a goal from George Maluleka, who is no longer part of the team.
Chiefs were well aware of the danger posed by Grobler, which is why at the start of the match the club tweeted: “Grobler must be marked!”
It appears that Siyabonga Ngezana was the man tasked with neutralising the Bafana Bafana marksman.
Ironically, media reports are now linking Grobler with a move to Amakhosi at the end of the season.
For Chiefs, the players who showed some spark were Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Samir Nurkovic, but it proved a great burden for the two to carry the entire team.
Coach Gavin Hunt can’t be faulted for being envious of his SuperSport counterpart Kaitano Tembo at the moment. Hunt and Tembo worked together more than a decade ago at the Tshwane club.
Interestingly, Hunt has had a tough time against his “students”, with his erstwhile protégé Benni McCarthy also having inflicted a defeat on Chiefs mid-week.
Tembo is unbeaten against Hunt, with five wins and a draw since he became permanent coach in 2018. He has a strong squad at his disposal, thanks to shrewd dealings in the transfer window by club honcho Stan Matthews.
In contrast, the Chiefs management has been left red-faced over its transfer deals, which resulted in an unprecedented ban from Fifa.
As a result, Hunt has limited depth in his rather ageing squad, which will most likely be replenished at the end of the season.
One of those ageing stars is Willard Katsande, who has been out of favour this season.
Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was surprisingly back in the starting team line-up, despite his howler in the 2-1 loss to AmaZulu on Wednesday. Khune’s long reign as first-choice stopper seems to be coming to an end, though.
His counterpart, Ronwen Williams, on the other hand, has a promising career ahead of him. The Bafana goalie pulled off a few saves that denied Chiefs scoring chances late in the game, including a hot shot from Ngcobo five minutes from relegation time.