Royal AM will become the 42nd different team that Chiefs will have faced since the advent of the Premier Soccer League since the 1996-97 season when they host the team from KwaZulu-Natal in a DStv Premiership clash on Saturday afternoon at FNB Stadium.
Amakhosi look to bounce back from their league loss to Sundowns this past Sunday and pick up the three points that are up for grabs.
While this is the first clash between Chiefs and Royal AM, according to Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter, the team who bought out the status of Bloemfontein Celtic have a very familiar feel to Phunya Sele Sele.
“We are going to do our due diligence on them,” says Baxter. “We pay them full respect and will not take them lightly. The team is basically Celtic’s driven. I think we can see some similarities there. Whether they want to play three, four or five at the back, I can’t control that. I think we have to try to concentrate on what we have done well and increase that. That’s a journey you are always on at this time of the year as a team. We got the new boys in and we are trying to integrate them and get results.”
Royal AM lost their opening two league games of the season but bounced back with a 1-0 home win over Chippa United. They will become the third team that Baxter did not come up against in his first spell as Chiefs coach that he will be facing in his current spell. When he was in charge of Chiefs from 2013-15, Baxter did not face either TS Galaxy or Baroka in league games and has already faced both those teams this campaign.
While Royal AM may be new to the DStv Premiership, Chiefs defender Daniel Cardoso feels that they know enough about them to know what to expect on Saturday, as Chiefs go in search of their second home league win of the campaign.
“Bloemfontein Celtic sold their status to Royal AM, so they have very familiar faces,” says Cardoso. “Ndumiso Mabena is there and is a very good player, they have some of our ex-players such as Lucky Baloyi and Kabelo Mahlasela.”
Cardoso who has featured in all three Chiefs’ league games this campaign is aware of the dangers posed by a team like Royal AM.
“We very familiar with them,” confirms the defender. “They do have a few players who came up from the GladAfrica Championships. They are a tricky side to face. Whenever you face teams that are new to the league or are promoted, they want to prove a point especially against a big team like Chiefs. So, we must not go in there thinking we are going to win the game comfortably, it’s going to be a tough game. We need to continue dominating games and we will score goals and win games.”
Chiefs head into the game without any new injury concerns with Dumsani Zuma, Leonardo Castro and Siyabonga Ngezana still long-term absentees while Lebogang Manyama who featured against Sundowns as a substitute continues to work his way to full fitness. Royal AM will become the seventh team from KwaZulu-Natal that Chiefs will come up against in the topflight since 1996-97.
Kick-off for the Chiefs and Royal match is at 17:00 at FNB Stadium. It will be live on SuperSport PSL Channel 202.