What Makes A Champion

If on has to count things that make good champions and compare it to what Kaizer Chiefs have done this season, not many boxes would go unticked.  Chiefs have not only collected at least a point from every match they have played in the league so far, they also have been playing good football, shown a lot of depth and most importantly, have refused to be beat.  Amakhosi have spent so little on playing personnel in recent years, which shows that money does not necessarily buy you success (Real Madrid might differ though).
Everything just seems to be coming together for the Glamour Boys this season.  They have got results from every match they have played this season, their combinations are well organised, every formation that coach Stuart Baxter comes up with players seem to fit perfectly into, and most importantly the senior players are coming to the party.  One of the mistakes that cost Amakhosi the title in the last lap last season was the lack of leadership and responsibility taken from their senior players, but that has all changed this season.
They have the best attack.  Baxter is really spoilt for choice in this area.  At the beginning of the season the MaLeMa combination was unstoppable, with Mandla Masango and the two George’s finding the target and creating goals non-stop. That form earned Masango a place in Shakes Mashaba’s squad.
Midway through the first round of the season, Baxter had a headache that any coach dreams of having.  He could play the young combination or decide to go with the likes of Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker.  Either way, Baxter’s boys have proved unstoppable this season.
Tshabalala, one of the longest serving members of the current Glamour Boys crop, has shown a lot of heart and form since he returned from injury at the beginning of the season.  He netted a crucial goal against archrivals Orlando Pirates and another one against Platinum Stars on Wednesday to prove how influential the 89-times capped Bafana player is.  Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Tefu Mashamaite and Parker are some of the players who make up that senior players list at Naturena, and they also have contributed at crucial times.
Yeye’s goal scoring form at the beginning of the season really set the pace for Chief’s season; a couple of goals from Masha, in matches that Chiefs should have lost came in very handy, especially against Pirates at Moses Mabhida, and Dikwena on Wednesday.  Who can forget the chest goal that Parker scored against Maritzburg United in the Telkom Knockout at the FNB stadium, in a match that Amakhosi were really on the back-foot for the best part?
Then there’s the defence.  If there’s a team in South Africa at the moment that we can associate the statement ”Goals win you matches and defenders win you tittles” with now, it has to be Chiefs.  The four men employed week in and week out by Baxter to be the last four have done wonders.  When both Tsepo Masilela and Siboniso Gaxa move forward, they are threats and when Masha and Eric Mathoho move forward in set pieces, they don’t only bulldoze everyone in the box, they come back with the goals; important goals.
Amakhosi’s defence has played a big role in taking them to where they are at the moment.  They have only conceded seven goals this season in the league and only once conceded two goals in one match (against Platinum Stars on Wednesday). Both Mathoho and Mashamaite have been regulars for Bafana Bafana and the constant omission of Masilela has raised a lot of eyebrows, with many believing it has more to do with his age rather than his displays.
The twin towers at the heart of Chiefs’ defence together with Willard Katsande’s hard work has also played a huge role in protecting young goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo.  The former Amazulu shot stopper had many doubting his ability to fill the boots of Itumeleng Khune at the beginning of the season, but he has proven everyone wrong with his heroic performances.  Just like Masango, his performances have earned him a place in the national team as well.
There is no doubt that Chiefs have been the best and most consistent team in the Absa Premiership season, but for how long will the dominance last?  Will it be enough to see them avoid what happened last season?  Only time will tell.