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SA SOCCER NEWS
Ted's Chiefs Masterclass 23/12/03
There is a widely held assumption in soccer circles that to win a league championship depends on the stingy nature of a teams defence.

If this be true then Kaizer Chiefs look well set to land a maiden Castle Premiership title and their first league championship in 11 years.

The mighty Amakhosi are sitting pretty at the top of the log having conceded a mere two goals in 13 league games this season and five in 18 matches in all competitions.

This is an impressive statistic when one considers that they have also hit the back of the net 19 times behind only Ajax Cape Town (22) and Moroko Swallows (20) who have both played a game more than the Phefeni Glamour Boys.

In fact such has been Chiefs dominance in the league that their goal difference of +17 pales those of their nearest challengers for the championship Ajax (+12), Santos (+9), Swallows (+8) and Wits (+14) into insignificance.

Credit must go to their coach Ted Dumitru for turning things around in such an impressive manner and proving those doubting Thomases who questioned his appointment at the beginning of the season wrong.

The wily old Romanian has managed to mould his array of stars into a cohesive unit who are tactically aware yet full of their legenadry flair.

His masterstroke has been getting crowd favourite Jabu Pule back on the straight and narrow, the immensely gifted ball wizard now the creative spark around which the team fires.

The form of the back four - Cyril Nzama, Patrick Mabedi, Fabian McCarthy and David Kannemeyer has been nothing short of stellar.

Granted that Kannemeyer has been lost to injury and none of Bevan Fransman, Buthi Sithole and Isaac Mabotsa have filled the void with the utmost authority, the Chiefs rearguard is proving almost impenetrable.

This is also indicative of the form of goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez and steely defensive midfielder Tenashe Nengomasha for their roles in keeping the opposition at bay.

Looking at players like Patrick Mayo, Fernandez, Nengomasha, McCarthy, and Kannememeyer it is amazing how they have transformed there lackluster early form at the club into the dazzling stuff of the last few months.

And Dumitrus arrival has been the catalyst. He has rewarded good form and been consistent in his selections. He has no favorites but rewards players who deliver.

Now if the club could only find a consistent goal poacher in the mould of Fani Madida, Shane McGregor or Siyabonga Nomevete to take the scoring pressure off their midfielders then the league championship may have already been sewn up.

Thankfully for local soccer fans they are still a player short of the finished article otherwise the other 15 teams in the Castle Premiership may already be playing for second place.

by Gavin Smith

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