Pressure on strikers to find back of net

PRESSURE IS ON: It is up to Chippa players like Buyani Sali to hit the target tonight. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
PRESSURE IS ON: It is up to Chippa players like Buyani Sali to hit the target tonight. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Chippa coach hopeful fans will be entertained and return for more

Chippa United enter tonight’s Premier Soccer League season opening game hoping their strikers hit the target from the outset. The Chilli Boys host Free State Stars at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and coach Dan Malesela said there had been some concern in that area in preseason.

“We are struggling at the top,” Malesela said. “We are struggling with our strikers. It’s not something that one cannot work on.

“But at this stage, you would expect us to be at a level where you can feel content with what you have done, or satisfied.

“It’s just those small things, maybe hasty decision-making or maybe the lack of control of the ball here and there.”

However, the former Orlando Pirates skipper said the problem might lie with him.

“I am this person who does not like mistakes. I do not want you to play football and make mistakes,” he said.

“Not that you won’t, but I don’t want you to be forced into an error.

“I do not want you to be making a mistake out of nowhere – something must force you to make that mistake.”

“Maybe I am being too pushy and too hard. But I do not want to go to game as well saying: ‘Oh please God let it be, let it happen’ . . . no.”

So there will be pressure on the likes of Andile Mbenyane, Bongani Ndulula, David Zulu and Buyani Sali to find the net this evening.

In defence, Malesela will be without international goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi tonight, but said he had able replacements.

Akpeyi was part of the Nigerian team which won Olympic bronze in Rio at the weekend.

The Super Eagles beat Honduras 3-2 in the third-place match on Saturday.

“We have goalkeepers. We have three actually – Zama Dlamini, Veli Muthwa and Ayanda Masiko. We have capable replacements in that department,” the coach said.

“Yes, you probably would have liked some continuity, particularly in a department as sensitive as goalkeeping.

“You would probably want Daniel to be here.

“He needs time also to come back and adjust to that. But I do not think that will be a challenge for us.”

The Port Elizabeth side will be looking to pick up from their sixth-place finish from last season.

A good start against Stars tonight could give the team a boost going into the season.

In head-to-head stats, Chippa and the Bethlehem side have met in six league matches since the 2012-13 season.

The Chilli Boys have claimed only two victories against Stars’ four.

Malesela said Chippa fans could expect to be entertained this season.

The coach said he was in soccer to entertain people and had instilled that belief in his players.

“I tell my players: ‘There is somebody who has paid to watch us play and they need to be entertained,’ ” Malesela said.

“I hope there will be very good support for us.

“I hope the numbers [at the stadium] will increase this season – if we [do not play] well people will not come.

“We want people to talk about us and talk about this team, how well it’s doing and how you should see it live and all of that.

“I think that is the main objective for us.”

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