Chiefs need clean sheets to keep title dream alive

JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs have found clean sheets hard to come by since the injury of their reliable goal-minder, Itumeleng Khune.

Amakhosi have tried different options between the sticks but no one has raised his hand and made use of the opportunity.

Virgil Vries was dropped after a number of errors. He was replaced by the new signing Daniel Akpeyi, who has also found the life tough with Amakhosi. He joined from Chippa United in January.

Chiefs haven’t registered a clean sheet since January 9 against Bidvest Wits in the league. They have conceded in five successive games in the league.

Coach Ernst Middendorp is not a worried man though, but has challenged his troops to improve.

“I’ve seen Teenage Hadebe performing in the last few weeks. You have to perform if you are a national team player going in to the Africa Cup of Nations. He was a bit shaky today (Saturday) and I had to change immediately at half-time. If you look at the process of the last two and a half months, we’ve changed a lot.

“We make it a bit difficult for ourselves. But soccer is like this. There are individual mistakes. The second goal was the individual mistake and the first goal we didn’t pick in the right positions, but as long as you can score one more goal than an opponent like it happened today (then it is fine). But we have to do better next time,” Middendorp elaborated.

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Itumeleng Khune’s injury has left Amakhosi with a gaping hole to fill. Photo: Muzi Ntombela

Chiefs have kept only eight clean sheets in 22 games while conceding 22 goals.

Chiefs are now eight points behind the leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns. Middendorp is still optimistic that they can still win the league.

“Mathematically, theoretically and in a practical way, anything is possible. We will prepare ourselves for the maximum. Next is Maritzburg United.

“In my opinion they are a good team. They played well last night (Friday) and they deserve to win. We should stop throwing away points like we did in the last few matches. I’m not thinking about results as long as we are going and realising that about the success of getting three points, then I’m good. It doesn’t matter against which team,” he added.

Their chances of winning the league are slim, but Middendorp believes that anything is possible.

“Soccer is so unpredictable. That’s the nice X-factor of the game. That makes it fantastic,” Middendorp said.

Chiefs are still in the last eight of the Nedbank Cup. They will face Cape Town City at home at the end of the month. Amakhosi are looking to end their trophy drought.

Soccer Writer

The Star

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