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Johnson hunting many points and a trophy

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Chiefs will have to pass five hurdles before reaching the Promised Land in the local premier knockout competition, the Nedbank Cup.

Cavin Johnson, interim coach of Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: Nokwanda Zondi, BackpagePix

Mihlali Baleka

CAVIN Johnson has embodied the roles that come with coaching Kaizer Chiefs, so much so that he wants to make the players better with every passing game.

Chiefs are enduring an eight-year barren streak. But they are eager to end that feat in May by winning the coveted Nedbank Cup.

However, that’s easier said than done. Chiefs will have to pass five hurdles before reaching the Promised Land in the local premier knockout competition.

Their first hurdle, in the round of 32, will be against second-tier division Milford FC at the FNB Stadium on Sunday evening (6pm kick-off).

Despite Milford campaigning in only their first season in the National First Division, having bought their way to the top, Johnson says they’ll pose a threat.

“We talk about the opposition before games, but Milford are a secret. They bought Uthongathi’s status, and not much is known about them.

“But we’ve seen some of their players – Zama makes the team tick a little bit. We also looked at the other 10 players and there are some that are good,” Johnson said.

Given the gulf between the two teams in history and quality, Chiefs would be all but guaranteed to walk away with the win on home turf and progress to the next round.

But such has been their vulnerability against the minnows in the competition, in which they hold the most championships (13), that Chiefs must play the game first.

Johnson seems to understand this as well. While the fans will hope that he unleashes the youngsters, he won’t do this just to flex his muscles.

So, if the recently promoted fan favourite, Mfundo Vilakazi, gets a chance to make his senior debut today, it will be for the right reasons.

“It’s probably not the best time (to play youngsters), but a good time to do it. I don’t like the word ‘rotation’ because we want to see something different,” Johnson said.

“I think if you want to employ 30 people in your team, they should all be ready to play at any time. That’s not rotation but using the right players for the right game.

“That, for me, is important for the players and us to understand – otherwise we’ll end up having an A and B team (within our squad).”

But while Johnson expects all his players to deliver whenever they are called upon to do so, he knows that it’s his responsibility to make them better, week in and week out.

Johnson has belief in his coaching qualities that he’ll achieve that feat, having opted not to bolster his squad during the January transfer window.

And this despite the team battling to score goals, having racked up four goals in Chiefs’ six-game unbeaten run.

“If I was a coach that came in with a group of 30-plus players and said you’re not good enough, it means I’ve not taken my work (seriously) and made them better,” he said.

“That is the reason why we did not sign anybody. I think what we have in the club is good enough to take us to the end of the season, with many points and a trophy.”

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