KAIZER Chiefs play the first of a controversial trio of “home” matches at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, seeking to bounce back from a midweek Telkom Knockout final loss to Mamelodi Sundowns with a tough assignment against Premier Soccer League (PSL) leaders Wits.
It is a two-fold assignment for the club — they have to win to keep their league hopes on track and cut down on the eight point lead that Wits have over them.
They also have to justify, in terms of the crowd attendance, the money the Cape Town City Council paid to shift Chiefs’ matches from Johannesburg to the Mother City.
The decision has been criticised by home club Ajax Cape Town, who are angry that Chiefs are “infringing” on their market and taking away money they feel should be spent on them.
“It is important that we get a good crowd because it is a business arrangement and an opportunity for the fans to show how much they appreciate us being here,” said Chiefs marketing manager Jessica Motaung on Thursday.
Chiefs held a rallying press conference to market the game but with beleaguered coach Steve Komphela missing from Thurday’s event, his absence left unanswered questions about what their tactics will be for the game.
Komphela and his players stayed behind in Durban before flying to Cape Town on Thursday night, but defender Morgan Gould was sent ahead to deal with the media.
His surprise return to the line-up for the cup final backfired as Chiefs battled without injured Mulomowandau Mathoho and got repeatedly caught out in defence.
“The result has been hard to swallow. It was never going to be easy. It’s (Wits) a very good side we are playing against but what better way to climb up the league than win on Saturday,” said Gould.
While Chiefs have little recovery time, Wits will be playing their first game in almost a month since coming back in the closing stages to clinch a thrilling 3-2 win over Lamontville Golden Arrows.
Another big game of the weekend sees Sundowns host Orlando Pirates, who are refreshed after their Caf Confederation Cup disappointment of losing in the final.
Bucs are out to improve their Premiership placing, says assistant coach Teboho Moloi.
“The guys were exhausted. And the training and mood are now very exciting. We gave them two full days off after we got back from our loss against Etoile, just to recharge the batteries and get them away from football.
“We’ve played friendlies in the past week against Black Aces and Moroka Swallows. And the guys have responded very well.”
Moloi believes it will come as some relief to Bucs being able to concentrate on domestic football, where they have slipped to 12th place in the PSL, though they do have two games in hand on most of the teams above them.
Friday night: Chippa v Bloemfontein Celtic (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 8pm)
On Saturday: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Polokwane City (Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30pm), Free State Stars v Jomo Cosmos (Goble Park, 3.30pm), Kaizer Chiefs v Wits (Cape Town Stadium, 6pm), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Ajax Cape Town (Mbombela Stadium, 8.15pm)
Sunday: University of Pretoria v SuperSport United (Tuks Stadium, 3.30pm), Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates (Loftus Stadium, 3.30pm), Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 3.30pm)