Chiefs are still there – Bwalya

“We are still there,” says Albert Bwalya ahead of Sunday’s Absa Premiership fixture against Bidvest Wits. “We are still on top of the log and the league title is far from over.”

Kaizer Chiefs suffered a set-back on Thursday night when Mamelodi Sundowns took three points thanks to a 1-0 win.

“We tried our best,” reflects the former striker, who played for both Amakhosi and the Clever Boys. “However, if it’s not your day, it is difficult to pull through. We just need to look forward.”

Looking forward means the upcoming game against Wits.

The Glamour Boys hosted the Students at Orlando Stadium for the first match after the restart of the league, on 12 August. Samir Nurković opened the score in that encounter, after which Wits equalised. A 1-1 draw was the result.

Overall, Chiefs have collected five points from five games since the league’s resumption, while Wits are on eight points from six matches. The Clever Boys haven’t lost a fixture as yet, although they also only won once. Five of their six encounters ended in a draw.

Amakhosi are topping the log table with 53 points, with nearest rival Sundowns having the same number of points from the same number of matches played (27 each). But Chiefs are atop thanks to a goal difference of +21, that’s five better than Masandawana.

Wits are in fourth place, having 46 points from 27 games.

Bwalya feel that the recent 3-1 loss to Bloemfontein Celtic got into the players’ mind.

“It’s not easy to stay in the bio-bubble, the Biological Safe Environment (BSE), because of the Covid-19 epidemic,” the former striker explains. “Instead of staying one or two nights in a hotel before a game, they are now in the bubble for almost four weeks. That’s not easy. It means that a loss gets into a player’s head, more than it would normally.

“It’s now up to the players to change that mindset and to lift the spirit for the remaining three matches. They need to look at the positives. For example, we really played well against Wits in our last outing, despite the outcome. Those are the positive things that players can use to motivate themselves.”

It’s no wonder that Bwalya, who could shoot ferociously with both legs when he was playing for Chiefs in the late 80s and early 90s, is happy to see that Nurković will be back from suspension.

The Zambian is also impressed with the recent performances of Lebogang Manyama and Daniel Akpeyi.

“Lebo has been putting so much effort in every game that he played,” Bwalya comments, “while Daniel has done wonders in goal. He has saved us a lot.”

Sunday’s match will also bring some nostalgia, as it will probably be for the last time that Chiefs will face Wits, as the club’s franchise has been sold to National First Division (NFD) side TTM.

“It’s indeed sad,” says Bwalya, who scored numerous goals for the Clever Boys during his time at the club, “especially as Wits would have been 100 years old next year.”

He’s optimistic about Chiefs getting the three points on Sunday. “We just need to get the results against Celtic and Sundowns out of our head. The players need to go into the Wits game with a winning spirit and if they do that, they will win.”

Amakhosi will play Bidvest Wits at FNB Stadium on Sunday, 30 August (kick-off at 15:30). No supporters will be allowed in the stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the DStv channel, SuperSport 4 and various SABC radio stations, with commentary coming through the Twitter handle, @KaizerChiefs