Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has raised the club’s supporters’ eyebrows, not only because of the promising displays the team has dished out, but also for not fielding Njabulo Ngcobo.
Of all the club’s new signings, Ngcobo is the only one who is yet to make a debut. And that has made the fans edgy as they believe he is the solution to their problems at the back.
Asked about this over two weeks ago, Baxter said Ngcobo was about a month from getting his chance. But with Amakhosi’s defensive frailties continuing to be the team’s Achilles heel, calls for Ngcobo have grown.
And this is what worries Ngcobo’s managers, Phakaaathi has learnt. “They are worried that if his inclusion is forced by the supporters, it might break him. It would be best if he was trusted by the coach and given a chance because he has earned it,” said a source close to the player.
Baxter currently uses Erick Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso as the centre back pairing but the duo have failed to impress in tandem this season, despite having played together for close to seven years now.
Asked about this lack of fluidity between his defenders a few weeks ago, Baxter said it was something he was working on and said it was not only at Chiefs but a prevalent problem in South African football.
I an interview a few years ago, when asked about this, Cardoso said he found it hard to freely shout at his defensive partners. He said he had had a good understanding with Lorenzo Gordinho because they could shout and curse at each other without any of them taking offence.
Mathoho is quieter and reserved and hardly says anything to either reprimand or advise his teammates on the field. This is why Baxter was expected to try a new partnership with Thabani Dube and Ngcobo. Dube did start alongside Mathoho and Cardoso, when Baxter fielded a back five against Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday, but that didn’t really work either in a 2-0 defeat.