When the teams met at Newlands Rugby Stadium in August, questions still lingered over Chiefs’ title credentials. City dominated the first half with Kermit Erasmus putting them in front, but the game changed after Benni McCarthy took him off.
A Lebogang Manyama free-kick found Daniel Cardoso at the back post for the equaliser. Then, after City failed to deal with Bernard Parker’s cross, Kearyn Baccus bundled home the winner.
City had a chance to claim revenge at Cape Town Stadium in October’s Telkom Knockout last 16 tie. It looked like they would when Kermit Erasmus gave them the lead in the 34th minute, but once again, the game changed after he came off.
A touch from Willard Katsande sent Reeve Frosler’s cross into Samir Nurković’s path and the Serbian striker netted an 84th minute equaliser. Chiefs went on to win on penalties.
Sunday saw Cape Town City stand up to Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in the league rematch, claiming 50% of the possession and giving Daniel Akpeyi a busy afternoon. Nevertheless, Jan Olde Riekerink’s men were deservedly beaten 3-0.
Headers from Leonardo Castro, Nurković and Erick Mathoho sealed a comfortable three points for Chiefs.
Even though they weren’t at their best, they had the cutting edge up front that City severely lack. In addition, they got numbers behind the ball when under pressure, while the visitors’ defence was often at sixes and sevens.
Chiefs have scored all six of their goals against City this season from crosses which their opponents failed to cope with. For all the talent in their team, they have kept their attacking strategy remarkably simple this season.
It is all too easy to forget the silky smooth football Chiefs played when on form last season. The prime example was the 3-0 MTN8 win over Free State Stars under Giovanni Solinas.
We saw glimpses of Khama Billiat’s brilliant best under the Italian coach, who continually sang his praises.
While Billiat has struggled under Middendorp, the German’s direct style of football has brought the best out of the likes of Lebogang Manyama and George Maluleka.
Most importantly, we will not forget the class of 2019-20 because they are ruthlessly efficient and consistent — everything which Cape Town City are not.
Like Chiefs last season, City have played some sensational football in 19-20. You need only watch the highlights of Erasmus mesmerising the Amakhosi defence at Newlands and Cape Town Stadium to realise this.
All too often, both under McCarthy and Olde Riekerink, they have failed to convert attractive football into points.
The solidity of Robyn Johannes is sorely missed. City conceded just 27 goals in the 30-game 2017-18 league season, in which he was their captain. In 48 league matches since, they have shipped 63.
The usually reliable Taariq Fielies looked totally at sea against Chiefs. Against Middendorp’s Glamour Boys, an off day will almost always be punished.
“Not so difficult, football is about scoring goals and if they score three and we score zero, it’s good they deserve to win,” Olde Riekerink told SuperSport after the game.
“I trust my team, I like the way they work, only today three high balls, three goals and we played better, but it’s not points so sometimes that’s also a way to win the game.”
Sometimes, the difference between being in line for the league title and languishing outside the top eight can genuinely be that simple.
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Leonard Solms is a sports journalist who features regularly on various local and international platforms including ESPN, New Frame, FARPost, Tagged Online and Careers Magazine, as well as this one. He enjoys the occasional bet and the most important tip he can give you is to bet within your means.