Many coaches will insist the successful recipe for constructing a winning team
is to build from the back and Kaizer Chiefs certainly got it right this season
in the defensive department.
While they might still be struggling upfront, and be devoid of a proper
predatory frontline striker, they have still romped to the championship with
three games to spare.
This is on the back of conceding just 12 goals with a defence that I never
found convincing yet deserving in all they plaudits they are now receiving.
In the end the numbers don’t lie and just 12 goals conceded in 27 matches is
formidable work, even if at times Eric Mathoho has looked a train smash waiting
to happen, Tsepo Masilela has continued his perennial battle with niggling
injury and Siboniso Gaxa can get often caught out of position.
Only Tefu Mashamaite exhibits a sense of calm confidence in executing his task
which translates to a belief from the spectators that he can handle almost any
Yet they will rightfully go down in local footballing history among the best
back four combinations Chiefs have ever assembled.
There maybe wasn’t the booming charisma of a ‘Ryder’ Mofokeng, Jimmy ‘Brixton
Tower’ Joubert, ‘Jingles’ Perreira or Trevor Mthimkulu but the 2015 version got
the job done with some aplomb.
It is, however, disturbing that Chiefs win the league title with likely the
lowest tally of goals ever scored by any previous champion and effectively
without a goal poacher of any note.
That doesn’t say much for the standard of the league where the pace of play
remains frenetic but the basic skills remain poor.
An example of this was delivered on Wednesday night at Atteridgeville as Tlou
Segolela, on loan from Orlando Pirates to Platinum Stars, started off with
exciting vigour as he delivered pacey runs down the wing, setting off a real
sense of anticipation, only to consistently bang his crosses nowhere.
It seems so pointless, all the running and dribbling to be rendered null and
void by the poor technique of being unable to deliver a square cross. What
Dillon Sheppard would do to have Segolela’s legs!
These lack of fundamental skills - also shooting on target and being able to
use both feet - mean there is a basic quality missing in the local game,
although it is still an exciting spectacle because it is played at such a
But had it not been for the gay abandon with which Polokwane City play, we
would have had a lot fewer goals this season as defences improve markedly but
the strikers seem to have all disappeared.
Mark Gleeson is a world-renowned soccer commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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