But what was it that made Stuart Baxter’s team better than the rest? What were the keys to their dominating the season as much as they did? Farouk Khan, a former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach and championship winner with Mamelodi Sundowns who is now a television analyst, tells Matshelane Mamabolo that there were five key aspects to Chiefs’ triumph.
The general saying in football is that “a good start means a good finish”. Of course this was not the case for Chiefs last season as they dropped the ball towards the end, but they got it right this time. To go 19 matches unbeaten – that’s almost two thirds of a season – will always make you unstoppable and this is what really put them in a good position. And of course their case was helped by the fact that Sundowns had a topsy-turvy start.
They have only conceded 12 goals in 27 matches, which is fantastic and it only happened because they had a very good defence. Their two towers (Erick) Mathoho and Tefu (Mashamaite) were superb and even when (Itumeleng) Khune was injured, young Brilliant (Khuzwayuo) could go into goal with some confidence in the knowledge that he had a protective wall in front of him.
Well structured and organised tactical approach
I’ve not seen such an organised team in our league in a long time. Chiefs players always looked like they knew what to do and when to do it – whether they were in possession or not. The structure of the team was always evident and even when the likes of (Kingston) Nkhatha or later (Matthew) Rusike were running up front, you could tell there was a plan to their running.
This is basically about players knowing what to do and when to do it. You could see that the likes of Tsepo Masilela knew when to make the overlap and when to stay at the back. You never saw Mashamaite wandering aimlessly up front and often when he did it was to good effect. Willard Katsande hardly ever left the heart of the midfield and on the few occasions he did, a teammate always came in to plug the gap he left.
Grinding out results
Championship sides are those who win matches they should have drawn or draw matches they should have lost. Chiefs did this on a number of occasions and I particularly remember how they managed to eke out a win against AmaTuks via that Shabba free-kick when it looked like they might only get a point. Also that win over AmaZulu after they had a tough trip to Morocco. - The Star
Original source: Five keys to Chiefs’ success