Cape Town – The solid debut performance of central defender Edmilson Dove was a significant factor in Kaizer Chiefs' recent 2-1 win over SuperSport United on Saturday.
Coach Arthur Zwane wasted no time fielding Dove, a 26-capped Mozambicque international, at the expense of 2021 PSL Defender of the Season Njabulo Ngcobo.
Dove seemed to understand his role well, and his ability to read the game saw many attacking sorties by SuperSport nipped in the bud. He cleared well when the team’s defence was threatened, and struck up an excellent understanding with left-back Sifiso Hlanti.
Zwane is in the process of rebuilding Chiefs, and Dove signalled his intention to be a part of that process. He tired towards the end, but he had been out of action in the past few months. More game time will make his razor sharp again.
All of this is bad news for Ngcobo, who failed to make it off the substitutes’ bench against SuperSport. When Dove was substituted, Eric Mathoho was the preferred choice.
Ngcobo has also fallen out of favour with Bafana Bafana, and was a surprise omission when the squad was named to play Sierre Leone and Botswana.
As a left-footer, Dove offers Zwane options, and it falls in line with the coach’s efforts to find the best combination.
“As we strive for balance (of play), we’ve got a left-footed centre-back who can easily connect with the midfielders or with Hlanti,” said Zwane as he explained Dove’s Chiefs debut. “We needed that (option), and let’s hope that we’ll keep it that way as time goes on.
“Yes, we might have made a few mistakes in applying ourselves, but when we were building up from the back, we were very composed. We always waited for the right moment (to attack from deep options).
“You could see with the first goal, we were not just kicking the ball because we were under pressure, because of the balance of play.”
Meanwhile, despite the international break. Chiefs have been hard at work since there has been a minimum disruption because Kgaogelo Sekgota is the only Amakhosi player in the national squad.
The team is preparing for a rare visit to Bloemfontein where, since the demise of Bloemfontein Celtic (who sold their Premiership status to Royal
AM) local, fans are starved of top-flight action. Chiefs play Royal AM there on Sunday in a Macufe Cup clash.
Zwane feels the game will serve as a dress rehearsal for Chiefs’ next match on 2 October against AmaZulu in the MTN8 semi-final.
“We need the game because we want to improve on certain aspects of our game,” said Zwane.
“We want to get our chemistry right and also give some other players a chance to play because we want to keep everyone at the same level of fitness.
“We need to use the match to try combinations and get them right for the games coming up in October because we will play seven official matches.
“We look forward to seeing Amakhosi supporters in Mangaung and the Free State because it has been long since we played there.”
The Macufe Cup was last staged in October 2019 when Celtic were crowned winners.