Chiefs will hope to take advantage of their continental showings, especially having endured a turbulent start to their domestic campaign.
JOHANNESBURG – Fresh from progressing to the last stage of the Caf Champions League preliminary round, Kaizer Chiefs have ample reason to believe that they can finally get back to winning ways in the Premiership.
Despite losing out on the league title on the final day of last season, Chiefs returned to continental football after a season-long absence after being drawn with Cameroonian champions PWD Bamenda in the first stage of the Champions League preliminary round.
Away, Chiefs defeated Bamenda 1-0 to take home the advantage of an away goal. At home, though, Amakhosi hosted the Cameroonians to a goalless stalemate – a result that ensured that they progressed to the next round, where they will meet Angolan giants Primeiro Agosto.
In the bigger scheme of things, Chiefs will hope to take advantage of their continental showings, especially having endured a turbulent start to their domestic campaign, where they were humiliated by their Soweto arch-rivals Orlando Pirates in the semi-finals of the MTN8.
Sitting in the bottom half of the league standings after one win, two draws and two losses, Chiefs need to turn their campaign around as soon as possible and they will get a chance to do that when they host Black Leopards at FNB Stadium tonight.
“We are happy to take the same positivity that we had on the weekend from our Caf game. It wasn’t the easiest of games but we did play good football. The ball was played very nice along the park on Saturday,” defender Daniel Cardoso said.
“So we hope to take that and hopefully bring it to our game against Leopards.
“We obviously need the three points because we are falling behind on the log. We haven’t had the best start to the season, so we want to get back on track and the boys know what is at stake.”
It may be early days in the league season but Cardoso and company know that they cannot afford to drop further behind the chasing pack, with champions Mamelodi Sundowns, newcomers Swallows FC and Pirates currently first, second and fourth respectively.
“Everybody knows that we need to start climbing the ladder,” Cardoso said. “It won’t be an easy task but I think we’ll be up for it.
“Like I said, if we take the confidence from the weekend’s game and convert our chances, I think we’ll get back to winning ways.”
With Chiefs having failed to bolster their squad during the close season due to a transfer ban, coach Gavin Hunt will be pleased with the return of last season’s top goalscorer Samir Nurkovic following an injury that has kept him out since the start of the campaign.
The return of Nurkovic might only solve a portion of Chiefs’ woes though, considering the team has been leaking defensively as well.
However, with goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune having kept two clean sheets against Bamenda in addition to saving a penalty, Hunt will feel that there is something to build on.
“It will be important for us to keep a clean sheet, I know that we haven’t been keeping clean sheets (in the league and Cup matches).
“We also haven’t had the best defensive record but we’ll change that around,” Cardoso said.