Home Sport Billiat, Castro key for Kaizer Chiefs’ success

Billiat, Castro key for Kaizer Chiefs’ success

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Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro are vital as Amakhosi try to find form.

Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro are vital as Amakhosi try to find form. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro are vital as Amakhosi try to find form.

CAPE TOWN – The mettle of coach Gavin Hunt is being seriously tested after the once mighty Kaizer Chiefs made an average start to the season which produced a solitary win in four Dstv Premiership outings.

Although the blame is usually apportioned to the coach, it is well known that the club is saddled with a daunting Fifa ban which forbids signing new players until June 2021.

As a result, Hunt has promoted a raft of rookies from the club’s development ranks to replace players who parted ways with the club at the end of last season.

It seemed like the mood in the players’ ranks has been at a deflated low but Chiefs’ invigorating form against Lamontville Golden Arrows over the weekend showed that there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

The pragmatic Hunt opted to play with an unorthodox 3-5-2 formation against Arrows.

It seemed to bring the best out of the team’s twin spearheads of Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro, who have not been the potent force they were when they were teammates at Mamelodi Sundowns.

However, Billiat produced two assists and Castro bagged a brace.

Apart from that, they came close to scoring at least five more times collectively.

Both Billiat and Castro played with great enthusiasm and that would have sent out a message that Chiefs can count on them in upcoming matches.

The ban has also resulted in a lack of depth in certain positions and this probably was the reason for Hunt’s call on the 3-5-2 playing pattern.

Hunt is excited about the players who have graduated from the development ranks, but he has pointed out that these players will be picking up experience at a price.

Hunt may well stick to this playing pattern for tonight’s Premiership match at Dobsonville Stadium against high-riding Swallows FC, who are unbeaten after four league outings this season.

Swallows have not played in the Premiership since 2015, and their return means there is another version of the Soweto Derby on the PSL landscape.

Hunt made seven changes to the run-on XI for the Arrows game, and there is a good case to retain this line-up for the starting duties against Swallows.

Bernard Parker and Njabulo Blom, who entered the fray as substitutes with 20 minutes remaining, will both have strong claims for run-on slots after they helped Chiefs produce a strong finish to the Arrows game.

Yagan Sasman, Kearyn Baccus, Siphelele Ntshangase and Keletso Sifama were not used against

Arrows, and they are likely to enjoy a second-half run at least since

Hunt will need a large squad at hand for the weekend’s continental encounter.

Chiefs will be in Cameroon for Sunday’s CAF Champions League preliminary round, first leg fixture against PWD Bamenda at the Limbe Omnisports Stadium in Limbe.

It will be the first time since 2016 that Chiefs will be in the African Champions League after finishing as the runners-up, behind Sundowns, in the domestic league last season.