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The way FOURward

8 August 2012 Thomas Monyepao

“At a meeting held today it was agreed to part ways with immediate effect, in order to allow both parties to prepare for the new season in good time.”

The above-mentioned quote was a statement issued by Kaizer Chiefs at a meeting following the dismissal of former Kaizer Chiefs head coach, Vladimir “VV” Vermezovic. As I write, it is 4 months later, and Amakhosi have just been hammered 4-1 in the MTN8 quarterfinal at Loftus Versfeld against an expensively-assembled Mamelodi Sundowns team.

The game was a sold out affair – well, those empty blue seats were just an optical illusion, you know – with Chiefs’ fans expecting their heroes to rise and make up for last week’s loss to arch-rivals, Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup final. These fans did not know what they were in “four”.

Despite some very good signings that Family Business FC has made, there are still a few holes in the team, namely: the left back position, defensive midfield and the wide midfield areas.

Left back
As things stand, Kaizer Chiefs only have two recognised left backs, namely: Keegan Ritchie and Zhiamo “Jimmy” Jambo. This was shown by the fact that Jambo was rushed back from injury to play in the Sundowns clash due to Ritchie being ruled out. Neither of these two players provided consistently good performances during the 2011/12 Premier Soccer League season, with Ritchie’s worst performance coming in the biggest game of the season – the Soweto Derby. Jambo, on the other hand, has been solid yet unspectacular at best. However, with Chiefs lacking an out-and-out left winger in the previous season (Vermezovic at times preferred giving Siphiwe Tshabalala a free role in the centre of the pitch), whoever is assigned to left back will be responsible for providing crosses from the wide areas. Jambo is a decent crosser while – as far as PSL defenders go – Ritchie is one of the best crossers of the ball in the country. But are they really title-winning material? There are rumours that Chiefs may sign Bafana Bafana international, Tshepo Masilela. The signing of Masilela could mean the difference between silverware and yet another barren season for the Khosi faithful.

Wide positions in midfield
Realizing his lack of resources in the wide midfield positions, Vladimir Vermezovic decided allowing the team to play possession-based, carpet football with penetrative attacks coming primarily through the centre of the field. This tactic worked in certain games but against organized defensive units, a change in approach could have helped turn the eight draws from last week into victories. Those draws (along with VV’s substandard man-management skills) ultimately led to VV’s demise. Abia Nale does not have the pace to trouble good PSL defences while the boo-boys favourite, Bernard Parker, is more suited to the playing in hole behind the striker rather than out wide. If George “Milky Way” Lebese shows more consistency and improves his final ball, he could become an automatic starter in the right wing position although one should not expect too much as he is still developing his game. Walter Stars product, Mandla Masango, is a decent winger on his day but the crossing aspect of his game is just not good enough. The 23-year old midfielder, who was once described as the next Jabu Pule by Kaizer Motaung himself, has not lived up to expectations and his game has not improved significantly since he first burst onto the scene in the Telkom Charity game against Orlando Pirates. If Siyabonga Nkosi can quickly adapt and play to his full potential in the Chiefs line-up, Siphiwe Tshabalala can then be moved out wide, with the improving youngster, George Lebese out on the right. Whisper it, but a sneaky bid for the out-of-favour Orlando Pirates winger, Dikgang Mabalane may provide a cheap, experience, short term solution to Chiefs problems out wide. A more daring bid for SuperSport United’s relatively new signing; Sameehg Doutie could also provide adequate competition in the right wing department. These moves are highly unlikely, but in “Shakes” Kungwane’s words: “Where there’s a budget, there’s a way.”

Defensive midfield
The fact that long-serving midfield destroyer, Tinashe Washington Nengomasha, was released by Kaizer Chiefs probably still has not sunk in yet and, in my opinion, Chiefs will rue the day they let the Zimbabwean. One can almost compare it to the day Arsene Wenger released midfield enforcer, Gilberto Silva from Arsenal. Just like Arsenal then, the Kaizer Chiefs midfield is now filled with playmakers and attacking midfielders, and lacking defensive strength with only Lucky Baloyi and Willard Katsande providing some sort of steel in the middle of the park. It must be noted that within the space of twelve months, Chiefs released a loyal, experienced beast of a defensive midfielder and signed an inferior Zimbabwean defensive midfielder-cum-wingback for reasons we may never know. In the MTN8 match against Sundowns, Reneilwe “Yeye” Letsholonyane, more of a box-to-box midfielder was used as the defensive midfielder in central midfield three that also contained new recruit, Siyabonga Nkosi, and Josta Dladla. This limited the impact that Letsholonyane had in the attacking third of the field somewhat. With Nkosi still struggling to adapt to his new surroundings, Yeye’s passing and vision was needed higher up the field.

Head coach, Stuart Baxter is unlikely to fix all three problems before the transfer market closes. The 4-1 hammering has however put more pressure on him and the club and this could see a few desperate big-money moves being made. If such moves do not materialize, Baxter’s tactical prowess or lack thereof will be revealed to all. I fear that he may not last the season at Naturena. Time will tell. Let the drama unfold!

  • Bucselona

    What I saw on the weekend is that Chiefs are missing leadership at the back. Like it or not Jimmy Tau needs to be captain and starting XI.

  • http://twitter.com/Tom_18Yards Tom Monyepao

    I thin Pa Gaxa back, the right back position is OK.  Leadership wasn’t the issue in the 4-1 hammering, rather Baxter’s ill-advised zonal marking tactics which he seems to have learnt from judging from the 2-1 victory over downs.

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