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Molefi Ntseki and Chiefs players under pressure heading into MTN8 showdown against Sundowns

Molefi Ntseki and Chiefs players under pressure heading into MTN8 showdown against Sundowns
Kaizer Chiefs coach Molefi Ntseki during the MTN8 semifinal press conference at PSL headquarters in Johannesburg on 21 September 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

The second legs of the MTN8 semifinals are here. The team that will be under the most pressure during these ties is Kaizer Chiefs.

It’s still early days in his tenure as Kaizer Chiefs head coach, but former Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki is already feeling the pressure of being at the helm of the faltering Soweto side.

The 54-year-old was once again the focus of ire from the Amakhosi faithful as his charges went down 1-0 to SuperSport United in midweek DStv Premiership action.

The defeat by Gavin Hunt’s men was a setback for Amakhosi, who went into the tie riding a four-game unbeaten run that inspired hope that the Naturena-based outfit had turned the corner.

The run, which included two wins and two stalemates, had the demanding followers of the club dreaming that they could string together a solid series of results. However, against Matsatsantsa it all came crashing down.

Chiefs

Gabadinho Mhango of AmaZulu FC and Njabulo Blom of Kaizer Chiefs during their MTN8 first-leg semifinal at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 2 October 2022. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

The team failed to score, even after creating concrete chances to find the back of the net. When the match ended in Polokwane, the Chiefs supporters at the stadium were chanting “Ntseki must go” as Amakhosi football manager Bobby Motaung tried to calm them down.

Ntseki, who took over the reins at the club in June 2023, had to be escorted off the pitch by the police as the spectators gathered at Peter Mokaba Stadium hurled projectiles at him.

We are continually working to enhance our game. However, we have faced various challenges presented by different teams, including those that are highly physical and those with complex tactical set-ups.

Similar scenes played out when Chiefs were beaten by TS Galaxy towards the end of August in a Premiership match.

Following the latest incident with the supporters, Amakhosi’s marketing and commercial director, Jessica Motaung, had some harsh words for the culprits.       

mtn8 chiefs zwane

Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Arthur Zwane. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

“We do not condone such behaviour. We call on the SA Police to act swiftly against people who do such acts, as they endanger the lives of many people who are at the stadium to enjoy the match,” Motaung said.

“We know things have not gone well. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s still early in the season and there’s still a lot to fight for,” she added.

Of course, with Amakhosi’s global reputation as being one of the best teams in Africa – and one of the most supported – the demand will always be high.

Add to this that the Soweto side has not won any silverware since 2015, and the situation will undoubtedly be volcanic. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for unruly behaviour.  

“The technical team and the players are working hard to ensure that we put smiles on supporters’ faces. But for that to happen it is important that we need to exercise patience,” Motaung stated.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena during the MTN8 semifinal press conference at PSL headquarters in Johannesburg on 21 September 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Amakhosi’s faithful will once again be expectant as the team takes on the ruthless Mamelodi Sundowns in the second leg of the MTN8 semifinals on Saturday, 23 September. The tie is level at 1-1 after the first leg in Johannesburg.    

It won’t be easy vanquishing Masandawana. Though, with Sundowns being the benchmark for excellence in South African soccer, all teams that play against them tend to step up their intensity on the day.

Indeed, with the monopoly that the Tshwane giants have created locally, securing a rare victory over them for any other team is almost as good as winning a trophy.

Nevertheless, Rulani Mokwena’s men are always ahead of the curve. Fully cognisant of the target on their backs.  

Teboho Mokoena of Mamelodi Sundowns and Lehlogonolo Matlou of Kaizer Chiefs during their MTN8 first-leg semifinal at FNB Stadium on 2 September 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Efmamjjasond Gonzalez and Edson Castillo of Kaizer Chiefs and Khuliso Mudau and Mothobi Mvala of Mamelodi Sundowns in action during their MTN8 semifinal at FNB Stadium on 2 September 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

“We are continually working to enhance our game,” Sundowns coach Mokwena shared after his side pipped Orlando Pirates 1-0 in crunch Premiership action during the week.

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“However, we have faced various challenges presented by different teams, including those that are highly physical and those with complex tactical set-ups. There are no straightforward matches and we invest a lot of effort to achieve the desired results.”

The sold-out affair at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville promises to be tense, with all the aforementioned subplots at play.

Chiefs

Fans during the MTN8 first-leg semifinal match between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on 1 October 2022. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Fans at the MTN8 first-leg semifinal between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on 2 September 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Defending champions

On Sunday, Pirates, the defending champions, will aim to bounce back from the midweek defeat to Sundowns in the league by reaching a second MTN8 final on the trot, and a third in four seasons.

The Sea Robbers carry a 2-1 advantage into the second leg of the semifinal match after they won in Stellenbosch. 

Playing on home soil at Orlando Stadium, they will be confident of vanquishing a Stellies side that has yet to taste victory from their past five matches, a run of four defeats and one draw. DM

MTN8 second leg semifinal fixtures:

Mamelodi Sundowns vs Kaizer Chiefs – Saturday, 23 September (3pm).
Orlando Pirates vs Stellenbosch – Sunday, 24 September (3pm).

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