“When at the top, everybody wants to spoil the party,” says Josta Dladla ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Absa Premiership fixture against Polokwane City. “It will be a crucial match for Kaizer Chiefs.”
The former Glamour Boy watched Amakhosi’s first game after a 5-month break, due to the Covid-19 epidemic, against Bidvest Wits on Wednesday night.
“We played well and the boys looked sharp,” Dladla comments. “We looked set to win the match until the 89th minute – one mistake and we got punished. That’s football for you.”
Dladla feels that Chiefs kept it tight at the back with Kgotso Moleko doing an excellent job by keeping Wits’ dangerman Deon Hotto quiet, while the centre-backs, Erick Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso, also delivered fines performances.
“Willard Katsande, as usual, did well too,” Dladla continues, before adding that “I was impressed with the youngster, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, who looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Credit also to coach Ernst Middendorp for having the courage to field him in such an important match, as not too many PSL coaches would do that.”
Ngcobo is only 20-years old and the midfielder impressed many in the encounter against Wits with his quality passing and running on- and off-the-ball.
Samir Nurković put Chiefs head in the first half and Khama Billiat looked to have scored a second, only for the goal to be disallowed due to offside.
“That was not an offside,” Dladla makes clear, “it was a nice one-two between Lebogang Manyama and Billiat, who finished neatly. The goal should have stood. The linesman got it wrong.”
Shortly thereafter, Nurković hit the crossbar, which was soon followed by Wits’ late equaliser by Cole Alexander.
“The defence had done so well until that goal,” Dladla points out. “Alexander was left unmarked. The goal came because of a lack of defensive concentration in the dying minutes of the game. It’s one of those things that drives coaches mad. I also felt that the defenders didn’t communicate with each other, as somebody should have marked Alexander.”
Amakhosi are still on top of the league table with 48 points from 23 games, four points ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns that has one match in hand.
“Sundowns drew against Orlando Pirates on Tuesday,” remarks Dladla. “It was therefore a pity that we were unable to increase the points-gap. It is, however, important for the players not to get nervous – they should keep being relaxed about it all, although, of course, not too relaxed.”
The Polokwane City game will be played on Saturday afternoon. This Absa Premiership encounter will take place at Loftus Versfeld (kick-off at 15:30). No supporters will be allowed in the stadium.
Rise and Shine are down in 14th position, with 23 points from 24 matches. City beat Chiefs 1-0 in the first-round clash at FNB Stadium.
“Polokwane City likes to play against us,” Dladla talks about the upcoming fixture. “They are one of those high-risk football teams in the way they play. You can’t give them space. They are also fighting relegation, which will make them like wounded lions.
“However, we should just stay calm. The coach should tell the players, ‘we want to keep smelling the blood (league title) and show how hungry we are.’ There are still seven matches to go, including the one on Saturday. We have to take it one game at a time.”