Kaizer Chiefs keen to avoid any slip-ups in Nedbank Cup clash against Casric Stars
Johannesburg — Kaizer Chiefs’ struggles against the minnows in the Nedbank Cup are well documented, but they are not dwelling on the past heading into the clash against Casric Stars.
Once regarded as the “Cup Kings of South African football”, Chiefs have defied that tag in recent seasons as they are enduring a seven-year trophy drought.
They’ve been so out of their depth that they’ve been whipping boys to the so-called less-fancied teams in the country’s premier knockout competition, which they previously won a record 15 times.
They lost a final to then Motsepe Foundation Championship outfit TS Galaxy in 2019, before they were dumped by another former second tier division side in Richards Bay last season.
But Chiefs are hoping to be third-time lucky against a second tier division side in the competition when they host Casric Stars in the last 16 at FNB Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The team’s assistant coach Dillon Sheppard, furthermore, argues that a lot has changed since their last banana peel against the minnows, hence they have to apply themselves accordingly against Casric.
“We don’t want to look in the past, we are going forward,” Sheppard said.
“If you look at the squad that played at Richards Bay last season, it’s totally a different squad, even though we still have players that were in that squad. So, they can share experiences.
“We must look forward to the opposition that’s ahead of us. And like I said, the guys are focused, and the energy has been good this week. We need to take it game by game.”
Casric are only campaigning in their first season in the First National Division, but they’ve taken the league by storm as they are gunning for promotion.
And with Chiefs boasting two of their strikers on loan at the club, Sheppard knows that they can’t undermine them, hence they must ace their game-plan to the tee.
“As you know we’ve got two loanees there, (Keletso) Sifama and (Sibusiso) Milazi. So, we’ve obviously been monitoring their performances,” Sheppard said.
“And that’s made us able to see some of their (Casric) games with the analysts. So, we have a little bit of information (about the team).
“But I think the most emphasis will be on us and how we set up going into this game. As much as we have all the information on them, we still need to go out and play our game.”
Chiefs have battled with consistency this term, resulting in them falling way behind in the title race — to leaders Mamelodi Sundowns — as they are eyeing the No 2 spot to qualify for the Champions League.
Their biggest Achilles heel, though, has been their bluntness in front of goal, despite signing strikers Caleb Bimenyimana and Christian Saile Basomboli for this season.
But with goals important in knockout competitions, Sheppard knows that they must fire on all cylinders against Casric. After all, the Nedbank Cup quarter-final spot is up for grabs.
“It’s very important to approach the game with the right mentality and mindset. When you go into the game, it’s not about divisions. It’s a quarter-final berth that’s up for grabs,” he said.
“So, we must do what is required to win a football match. I think we are in the right space and frame of mind to make sure that we’ll progress to the quarter final.”
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