Royal Eagles coach cannot rule out an upset against Kaizer Chiefs

07 February 2020 - 15:26 By SAZI HADEBE
Kaizer Chiefs playmaker Khama Billiat.
Kaizer Chiefs playmaker Khama Billiat.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Royal Eagles coach Phuthi Mohafe feels half of his job will be done if his charges can cut supply to Kaizer Chiefs’ danger men like Khama Billiat.

The two teams will meet in the Nedbank Cup last-32 clash at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Mohafe, whose team is battling relegation in the GladAfrica Championship, the second tier of local football, believes players like star playmaker Billiat will pose a danger to Eagles if they’re given space to attack the Durban outfit.

“Fortunately, with Billiat you know that he’s playing one way (dimensionally),” he said of the Zimbabwean international who started training with Chiefs this week after an injury that has kept the player out since the beginning of 2020.

“His way of playing is just to receive the ball behind the defenders, so you need to cut the supply. If you can’t cut the supply from (Lebohang) Manyama then you will be dead meat. So we’ll have to cut the supply from the midfield so that he doesn’t hurt us.”

Mohafe, a former assistant coach at Polokwane City (2016) and Tshakuma FC (2019) before joining Eagles as head coach, said he can’t rule out his team causing an upset against Chiefs, who were beaten by TS Galaxy, another First Division team, in the Nedbank final last year.

Eagles are, however, more concerned about their safety from relegation in the national first division as they’re currently at the basement of the 16-team log after gaining only four points from their past five league matches, all played this year.

Their last victory was their first league match this year away to Sporting FC (1-0), but despite this the Eagles coach said Chiefs can underestimate them at their own peril.

“When you look at the history of Kaizer Chiefs playing smaller teams you can say, ‘Yes’ (Eagles can cause an upset),” said the 45-year-old coach. “But you again say Chiefs is now on a roll … they’re on fire. So are they going to play the regulars or the fringe players?

“So it’s a catch-22 situation. If they’re playing the fringe players the possibility of us beating them is there. “If they’re playing the regulars, you’re also saying ‘I’ve been watching them, so what can I do to plan against that?’

“Yes, the possibility is there (of causing an upset).”

For Mohafe playing Chiefs presents a big opportunity to re-energise his charges, who gained a point in their last league match against KwaZulu-Natal rivals Real Kings (1-1) at the weekend.

“It’s a new dawn for us,” said Mohafe. “We’re going to play a big team Kaizer Chiefs, the team that is on fire and the team at the summit of the PSL log, and we’re on the foot of our log.

“When you check that you say, ‘How is he going to do it?’ “How can you beat a team that’s on fire when you’re struggling in your league? But don’t forget that we’re playing a cup match.

“With cup matches like Nedbank everybody showcases what he’s given and showcase the talent. Everybody wants to be signed, especially the players – they want to win the contracts of the big teams.

“It’s been a 50-50 situation for us and we need to forget what’s happening in our league,” said Mohafe. “We don’t need to go there to beat Chiefs and forget what’s happening in our league.

“We don’t want to go and say guys are motivated and go there and find out we’re to be demoralised by the beating from Kaizer Chiefs.

“You go there and you beat Kaizer Chiefs and you should know that you’re highly motivated. It’s a motivation on itself (playing Chiefs) and for us everything has been going smoothly.”