Kaizer Chiefs’ first league win of the 2020-21 season against Chippa United on Tuesday night was “one step forward”‚ said coach Gavin Hunt as he puts together the pieces of a puzzle to try to formulate a successful combination at Amakhosi.
The 1-0 result at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium‚ and an at times rampant performance from Chiefs — hitting the woodwork three times in the first half‚ and forcing a string of saves from Chippa goalkeeper Veli Mothwa in the second — was timely.
Chiefs meet Orlando Pirates in Saturday’s Soweto derby first leg of their MTN8 semifinal‚ and any confidence boost will be welcome.
Hunt said he did not believe the energetic performance — as he fielded something of a fringe line-up after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns — would necessarily affect how Chiefs go into the coach’s first derby.
“I thought there were certainly glimpses [on Tuesday night]. I thought our shape was much better. But every game will give you a different problem‚” Hunt said.
“The only thing was that we created so many chances but didn’t score. We hit the post I’m not sure how many times in the first half‚ which was a bit frustrating because you could see a bit of tension set in at the end.
“But that’s natural. When you lose like we did on the weekend‚ you’re going to get a bit of that. So we’ll take one step forward and try and go from here.
“I don’t think it affects us on the weekend at all. But it just gives me a bit of a better understanding of some of the players.
“There were a few eyebrows raised [at Hunt’s selections]. But I knew in my gut what I thought was right to do.”
After remarkably being denied so many times by the post and Mothwa‚ finally it was Chippa left-back Gregory Damons who turned the ball into his own goal in the 78th minute.
Hunt said much of what he planned for came together‚ and that playing at night also helped.
“I want my team to play with a lot more pressing style. I want higher energy. Distances must be equal. We haven’t been very good at that [before Tuesday]‚” he said.
“If there was one thing [to stand up] for the players was we played two day games in 30°C heat‚ where it’s very difficult to play that type of style. But when we play a game like this evening‚ we were so much better.
“We are coming to summer‚ so the more night games the better.”
Highlights for Hunt would have been the restored energy of forwards Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat‚ and continued emergence of 20-year-old midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo‚ who was awarded man-of-the-match.
Other highlights included good ball-playing and control of the game by Kearyn Baccus‚ Njabulo Blom and Lebogang Manyama in midfield‚ and committed defending from Siyabonga Ngezana and Daniel Cardoso at the back.
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