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Is Kaizer Chiefs' Kwinika really behind Amakhosi's defensive struggles?

10:11 PM IST 05/12/22
Zitha Kwinika of Kaizer Chiefs.
The former Stellenbosch FC, Chippa United and Bidvest Wits player has played in all but one of the Glamour Boys' 13 league games this season

Kaizer Chiefs central defender Zitha Kwinika was the subject of some harsh criticism from ex-Chiefs centre-back Morgan Gould.

It's certainly fair to say that poor defending has been one of Amakhosi's main problems this season - with 15 goals conceded in 13 league matches, they have the worst record of any of the top five clubs in the PSL.

To single out Kwinika though seems a bit harsh from Gould, who told Isolezwe:

"What is difficult is that there are those who do not play, and there are those who make mistakes yet they continue to play," Gould said.

"The truth of the matter is that Zwane doesn't have the right combination that he can trust, especially from the players in central defence.

"The problem is when you still have players like Kwinika who make mistakes at the age of 28. That's the problem."

For one thing, players can make mistakes at any age - veterans such as Erick Mathoho, Daniel Cardoso and Itumeleng Khune have made their fair share of blunders over the past few years.

And while Kwinika made a couple of errors in the weeks leading into the World Cup break, he has overall this season largely been impressive and barely put a foot wrong in the opening two months of the campaign.

He's led by example with his tenacious attitude and considering it's his first season playing for Chiefs in the PSL, he's acquitted himself well and has generally been well-received by the fans.
What are the other options?

It's arguable that the likes of Siyabonga Ngezana and Njabulo Ngcobo have been more error-prone than Kwinika this season while Mathoho appears to be at the tail end of his career at 32 and has not been at his best for a couple of seasons now.

A lack of options at left-back means Sifiso Hlanti has been employed at full-back rather than in central defence, while Edmilson Dove has been given a lot of game-time since his arrival just before the transfer window closed.

So it's difficult to understand who Gould is referring to when he said that there 'are those who do not play'.

Bigger issues?

What has possibly been more concerning is Chiefs' recruitment over the past five years, and the way the players who have been brought in, have been utilised.

Ngcobo for example was given a raw deal by previous coach Stuart Baxter when asked to play in central midfield and also being left on the bench a lot, despite being the PSL Defender of the Season when he arrived from Swallows. It was also probably a bit harsh of coach Arthur Zwane to drop Ngcobo after just a couple of mistakes.

Austin Dube meanwhile has been left to languish on the sidelines for two seasons while left-back Sibusiso Mabiliso came and went without barely making an impression.

Reeve Frosler meanwhile has been shifted backwards and forwards between left and right-back, while new arrival Dillon Solomons has not fully convinced.

Goalkeeper problems

The constant chopping and changing of personnel, the stop-gap signings and the overall recruitment issues are surely more to blame for Chiefs' defensive struggles than one or two mistakes made by the hard-as-nails, ultra-committed Kwinika.