Kaizer Chiefs’ big birthday bash arrived at the right time‚ says Maluleka
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Maluleka believes the club’s 50th anniversary celebration came at just the right time.
Amakhosi travel to meet Black Leopards at their Thohoyandou Stadium home ground – one of the few venues where Amakhosi can be almost matched in support in the stands – on Wednesday with a nine-point gap restored‚ after it had been whittled to four over Christmas.
Chiefs suffered what cannot be called a mini-slump – more accurately‚ perhaps‚ it was a ‘minute slump’ – as they sagged to a draw in KwaZulu-Natal against Maritzburg United before the Christmas break‚ then loss on their return against SuperSport United in Nelspruit.
That saw second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns reduce the gap to four points‚ and the bubble for an Amakhosi who had underachieved spectacularly with no trophies in their past four seasons‚ finishing ninth last campaign‚ seemed finally set to burst.
Chiefs celebrated their birthday with the squad attending an event in the place of their founding in January 1970 in Phefeni along with a litany of the club’s greats and legends.
Chairman Kaizer Motaung emphasised to the current side that a 50th anniversary comes once‚ and they have a chance to write their names in history.
The next night they beat Highlands Park 3-0 at FNB Stadium‚ and followed that up with a win by the same scoreline at home to Cape Town City.
The humorous commentators of social media might also suggest that Chiefs could not have wished for a better birthday present than archrivals Orlando Pirates on Wednesday doing Amakhosi a favour beating Sundowns 1-0 at Orlando Stadium.
“Definitely. I mean you saw the guys’ performance [against Highlands]‚” Maluleka said of the timing of Chiefs’ 50th birthday celebrations just after a hiccup.
“And I mean‚ we got a lot of words of wisdom from the legends themselves‚ and from the chairman. And we have tried to make sure that that we make them proud.
“It’s the 50th anniversary and it’s the year 2020. So I think closing off on a high and winning silverware would be something very special for the club.”
Amakhosi‚ given their poor past four campaigns and inexperience winning trophies‚ still do have an air of fragility that lurks below the surface of the growing confidence that has come with each positive result in a big season for the club.
Doubters continue to expect Chiefs to implode.
“Look‚ I think we know what we do on the field when we train‚” was Maluleka’s response to such a notion.
“We work very hard as players. The technical staff have done a brilliant job working with us.
“And it’s showing on the field. We’re playing with a lot of aggression‚ we have confidence – the players have matured enough to be able to manage games and come up with positive results.”
Leopards’ new coach Cavin Johnson will want to reverse a disastrous start of three defeats since replacing Luc Eymael – who left for “personal reasons” – over Christmas. Those losses took the 15th-placed Limpopo team into a state of freefall of four losses in a row‚ and five games without a win‚ that Lidoda Duvha will hope is temporary.
PSL this weekend -
Maritzburg United v AmaZulu (Harry Gwala Stadium‚ 8pm)
Stellenbosch v Baroka FC (Athlone Stadium‚ 8pm)
Black Leopards v Kaizer Chiefs (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Orlando Pirates v Highlands Park (Orlando Stadium‚ 6pm)
Cape Town City v Bidvest Wits (Cape Town Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
Polokwane City v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Bloemfontein Celtic v Chippa United (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium‚ 3.20pm)
SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 3.30pm)