ECCO City Greens deadly trio of Malepa Bolelang, Mandlenkosi 'Sukunyetsa' Sibanda and Bonolo Fraizer is set to test a suspect Mochudi Centre Chiefs' defence when the two sides clash tomorrow.
The Chiefs' defence has been rock solid in the past three seasons, but is showing cracks in the current campaign.The defensive frailties were exposed last weekend when they lost 2-1 to bitter rivals Township Rollers.
Chiefs' coach, Rahman Gumbo watched in horror as his side failed to defend a set piece given away just metres from where he stood. Joel Mogorosi lifted the ball past an ineffective wall and a static defence before Powell Abednico powered home the winner. Abednico rose unchallenged, with the usually reliable defender, Itayi Gwandu failing to pick him. The moment triggered a frenzied reaction from Gumbo who was animated on the bench, but there was little he could do except throw his hands in the air in frustration.
The defence has been the team's Achilles' Heel this season and now it comes against an attack spearheaded by Bolelang, the leading be MOBILE Premier League goal scorer. While Chiefs have the second best defence in the league, its current record does not paint a good picture. Without doubt, the departure of Given Mpundu and the absence of Michael Mogaladi has left holes in the Magosi defence.
The arrival of towering defender, Gwandu, from rivals, Rollers, during the off-season transfer, was expected to fortify the Chiefs' rearguard.
But Gwandu, a player with an impeccable record at both Gaborone United and Rollers, has suddenly found himself struggling.
Granted, he lacks pace but he compensates with an excellent reading of the game. Often if he is caught out or outpaced, he struggles to make swift turns. He is good facing an attacker but once he is beaten to the ball, he finds it difficult to recover. To his credit, Gwandu is usually calm even under severe pressure and is brilliant in the air. Despite being probably the best defender in the last two seasons, he has found himself searching for rejuvenation.
The image of Abednico flashing past him might haunt him against ECCO as he prepares to face a formidable frontline ably led by Bolelang. Gwandu said it is crucial that the Chiefs' defence rectify its mistakes.
"Against Rollers, we conceded a soft goal towards the end. We should avoid that against ECCO. You can't afford to slip against a player of Malepa's calibre," he said.
He promised Chiefs' fans that he will do his best to contain the marauding ECCO forwards. He denied that his failed move to South African side, Orlando Pirates, is affecting his game. He said that despite the setback, he is focused and is working hard. "May be it is only that the team has not been doing well. I am still the same Itayi you saw playing for GU and Rollers," he said. On the right, Mpoeleng Mpoeleng is expected to start while James Kachinga will man the left flank for Chiefs. They will have to contend with Bolelang who is ready to run at defenders. The ECCO point-man said they have prepared well for the Chiefs' game. "It all starts at training. We have been working hard and morale is high. I am the captain and I have to lead from the front. It will depend on who has prepared well," he said.
Despite his blazing start to the season, Bolelang has been overlooked for national duty. However, he is not disappointed by the omission.
The gangly Sibanda is expected to prove a handful for Chiefs as he did to Rollers a fortnight ago.