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Saleng: Kaizer Chiefs need a special plan to stop Orlando Pirates winger

15:16 GMT+3 26/10/2022
Monnapule Saleng, Orlando Pirates, October 2022
With four goals in his last two matches, the former Free State Stars attacker will be brimming with confidence ahead of the clash at the FNB Stadium

Orlando Pirates winger Monnapule Saleng's name will surely be popping up quite a bit in Kaizer Chiefs' planning for Saturday's Soweto derby.

After scoring 13 league goals for Ea Lla Koto in the second-tier two seasons back, Saleng spent last term on loan at Swallows but managed to score just twice.

Now, given his chance by coach Jose Riveiro a couple of months into the current campaign, Saleng has been absolutely sensational.

Apart from his two well-taken goals against Sundowns in last weekend's 3-0 MTN8 semi-final clash (showing his big match temperament), he also put the ball on a plate for Kermit Erasmus to head in the opener. In doing so, Saleng showed electric pace to out-sprint Aubrey Modiba before crossing for the assist.

And that will be Chiefs' major worry - that Saleng can get at their left-back, Sifiso Hlanti. Hlanti's never been known for his speed and now approaching his mid-30s, the big defender could find himself tormented by the smaller, nippier man.

Indeed it's arguable that at this stage of his career, Hlanti - who remains a class act - would be better suited to playing in the centre of defence. That's actually what Chiefs have already done with Edmilson Dove - changed him from a left-back to a centre-back.

With Saleng's speed and form in mind, Amakhosi surely need to alter things. The problem is they're short on left-backs and have been so for a few years now.

Their best option would probably be to bring the more athletic Reeve Frosler across from right-back to the left, where he has operated a lot over the past two seasons.
They could then have a back three of Dove, Hlanti and Zitha Kwinika, with Siyabonga Ngezana going in at right-back. There's also the option of replacing Dove or Hlanti with Njabulo Ngcobo, who has a bit more pace.

Because it's not only Saleng's speed that they need to worry about - Erasmus is still very lively at the age of 32 and there are also the likes of Deon Hotto, Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, Zakhele Lepasa and several other speedsters to worry about.

The lack of speed in their defence and the shortage of options should be concerning for Chiefs' management and it's something they may want to address going into the January transfer window.

Another option is to bring Njabulo Blom back to right-back, although that may prove counter-productive after his recent good performances in the centre of the park where he seems best suited and mostly enjoys playing.

Either way, it won't be surprising, in fact it would probably be for the best, considering their current form, if Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane goes a bit more conservative and selects a five-man defence.

The way things have been going for his side of late, Zwane can ill afford a derby hiding and a 0-0 draw would be a result he would likely happily take if offered before the game.