Sport / Phakaaathi / Local Soccer
Benni McCarthy had said they usually start the games against Chiefs like a house on fire, but do not end off too well.
On Saturday they took a more passive approach in the first half, but having said that, City were not at their best on the day.
The worrying factor for me is that Kermit Erasmus is not finishing games – against Orlando Pirates he was taken off early, and it happened again against Chiefs. If you listened to Benni after the game, he didn’t want to take him off against Chiefs. Against Pirates it was the altitude and this weekend it seemed to be a bit of a niggle, I am not sure why he was pulled off … certainly if City could keep Erasmus on the field they could possibly get away with a few more victories.
That is to take nothing away from Chiefs. We have seen from the beginning of the season that they have the character to come from behind in matches. Even in the league game against City they came back from a goal down to steal it 2-1. The team has belief and is starting to gain an identity, even though they used a more direct approach against City. You need to have horses for courses, and they used Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic as a way to put pressure on their opponents, and to bypass the high press. It paid off in the second half as Chiefs came out and continued to dominate proceedings.
Chiefs are unseeded and could well get a difficult quarterfinal draw, but if you want to win the cup you have to beat the best. It is also good to be in this cup for as long as possible, as it allows you to play more games and keep your momentum. If you are not in it your season is a bit stop-start.
As for Mamelodi Sundowns, who play Chiefs in the league on Sunday after playing Highlands Park tomorrow, I think a standout player that will help them in this run of so many games is Andile Jali. It looks like he is getting his fitness back, and having him there is like a new signing – similar to Lebo Manyama at Chiefs. The effect is so positive, and having him alongside Hlompho Kekana, Sundowns have so many options. Against AmaZulu in the TKO, it was great for the two South Americans, Jose Ali Meza and Mauricio Affonso, to break their duck, with Affonso making his debut.|
We have already seen Meza’s qualities and if he can add goals to that it is a big plus. They are both fighting for a starting berth, which shows Sundowns’ depth, and it will help them, coming at a time when they have Champions League games, Absa Premiership games and TKO games before Christmas.
As for Gaston Sirino, there was never any doubt of his ability, it was just his fiery character, and that comes down to management. I think Pitso Mosimane knows how to manage him now. He was a bit feisty and erratic but his quality is unquestionable. His movement, passing and vision really fits into the South African style.
With the fixture congestion Sundowns have, I think the result against Highlands Park will tell us how Sundowns will approach the Chiefs game. If they beat Highlands, Sundowns maybe won’t go forward as much against Chiefs, and say to themselves that if they can steal the game then that’s what they’ll do. But if they lose to Highlands, it will set up a different game against Chiefs.
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