Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIS
Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIS

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt believes the slower‚ more methodical football in the Caf Champions League suits his players better than the helter-skelter nature of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).  

After Saturday’s dramatic 4-0 first leg Caf Champions League demolition of Simba SC‚ Hunt said he also believed Chiefs’ battles in the PSL are at least partly down to never having recovered properly from the psychological effects of losing the title on the final day of the 2019/2020 season.

In a remarkable turn of events‚ Chiefs who have been woeful in the PSL, labouring to two wins from 15 matches, to be in 10th place with two games to go‚ are on the verge of being in the last four of Africa’s premier continental club competition.           

“I think the Champions League is suited to this squad. It’s a much slower game‚ a lot more predictable, so it comes at you‚” Hunt said.

“In the PSL‚ I’ve always said that the players run faster than the ball. It’s much slower in the Champions League. So maybe it suits the group of players that we’ve got,” he said.

“That’s the only thing I can think of from a football perspective. But I don’t see ... if we created similar chances in the PSL we haven’t scored them‚ and sometimes they’ve been going in in the Champions League.”

At the beginning of the season Hunt played down the psychological influence of Chiefs’ final-day capitulation — drawing 1-1 with Baroka FC to let slip a title race they led all season to Mamelodi Sundowns.

“It sounds like I’m making excuses. But what they came from last season‚ to have a two-and-a-half-week break and then start again‚ when I came here I definitely saw a huge psychological problem‚” the coach said.

“Every time a goal went in in the first few games — well‚ this whole season — we seemed to just psychologically [react] because of what had happened.

“Maybe we play in the Champions League with less pressure‚ if you want to look at it like that. But I do think it’s a totally different football game in the Champions League.”

This applied even to the top sides. “When you play Wydad Casablanca and Al Ahly — yes‚ they’re huge clubs — they do the simple things well‚ where in the PSL you don’t know what to expect.

“I think we’re the only team in the Champions League quarterfinals who are not top of their league. So it’s a huge thing.

“But it’s only halftime. I know what it’s like there [in Tanzania]. They’re going to have a full stadium, it’s going to be crazy there. And we’re going to have to be clever.”

Chiefs meet Simba at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam in Saturday’s return leg.

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