Kaizer Chiefs’ win in their opening Absa Premiership match last weekend was so important the team were willing to do anything to get it – including changing their playing style against a stubborn Highlands Park whom they beat 3-2 at Makhulong.
The win had to come to settle the nerves for both the team and supporters, said Dumisani Zuma, who was one of the architects of Highlands’ defeat. This was because Amakhosi could ill-afford to make a bad start after last season’s fumbling which saw them lose a cup final to National First Division minnows and finish outside the top eight in the Absa Premiership.
“The approach was clear for us. It was our first game and we understood it was important to start well. It was clear for everyone that we needed to win to set the tone for the season,” said the 24-year-old attacker. What was clear in Chiefs’ display was their aggression and fighting spirit.
“It starts here at training,” explained Zuma at Chiefs’ base in Naturena. “The coach is always emphasising that we have to be aggressive in one-on-ones and decision-making. We want to control the game too. That has improved. We also have more fighting spirit now,” he added.
It is early days but there is a general belief that coach Ernst Middendorp was not aiming for heights his team could not scale when he said they were going for the league championship.
“Anything is possible,” Zuma agreed.
“We just have to take each game as it comes and see what it brings us at the end of the season.”
Amakhosi’s next opponents are Black Leopards on Saturday night at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Leopards will be looking for redemption after a losing start to their season last weekend. Lidoda Duvha were beaten 1-0 at home by provincial rivals Polokwane City.
“The Leopards game will be another tough one,” admitted Zuma. “But we will stick to our game plan. The momentum and spirit is high. We trust ourselves and know what we are capable of after that win. I think things will be better now going forward.”
Zuma said the introduction of new players into the team has also helped, as every player knows he has to fight to clinch a place in the matchday squad.
“No one has a position and everyone must fight for one. That helps everyone to improve every day at training,” he said.