Johnson insists Nomvethe, Khenyeza won't start against Chiefs in TKO tie
Cavin Johnson is wary of an improved Kaizer Chiefs and his own players freezing on the big stage as he prepares his AmaZulu side to face the Soweto giants in the Telkom Knockout first round on Saturday night.
Usuthu have been spared a trip to Johannesburg for the tie after Chiefs opted to use their alternate home ground‚ the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban‚ for the tie.
Johnson said his side’s 2-1 away win at Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend has given his team plenty of confidence‚ but is aware that Chiefs have also shown some improved form with their win over the same opposition and a draw with Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby last time out.
“At the moment they are on a roll‚ their players are coming to the party‚” Johnson told TimesLIVE.
“[Coach] Steve [Komphela] is playing a certain way‚ we will have to go out and do our homework to tactically analyse their play.
“But we will just play our brand of football and we know we are capable of competing with Chiefs at a high level.”
AmaZulu bought their way back into the Premier League this season after the purchase of the status of promoted Thanda Royal Zulu.
That means many of their squad are experiencing top-flight football for the first time and playing against Chiefs will be something new to them.
“For many it is a first opportunity for them to play against Chiefs and that can sometimes be intimidating.
"For the younger guys‚ some of the Chiefs players might have been their role models in the past‚” Johnson said.
The coach also does not feel that Chiefs have done them a favour by having the game played in Durban.
“It doesn’t make a difference where you play Chiefs in South Africa‚ they always pull in a lot of fans and make you feel like the away side.
"They have been playing a lot of games at the Moses Mabhida Stadium recently‚ so they will be comfortable there.”
Johnson suggested that he will also resist the temptation to start veteran forwards Siyabonga Nomvethe and Mabhuti Khenyeza against Chiefs despite their goalscoring exploits against Sundowns.
He feels that at age 39 and 35 respectively‚ he can get more out of them as impact players off the bench.
“They both have great quality and are proven goalscorers in the PSL‚” Johnson said.
“But there are certain realities around them as well that we must consider.
“After their goals at the weekend‚ there have been a lot of calls for them to start against Chiefs‚ but we have to be careful how we use them.
“We cannot expect them to be at the same physical level as younger players and we must make sure that when they play‚ it is at the right time for them and for us.”
Johnson said the number one priority this season is cementing the club’s place in the Premier League‚ but added that a good run in the cup would do plenty for the team.
“Every coach in the PSL has always got silverware on their minds.
"For AmaZulu it is about building our brand again.
"If the Telkom Knockout affords us the moment to go to the next level‚ then we will try take it.”