Derby tide in Chiefs' favour, but Pirates strong

Lethal Chiefs striker Khama Billiat.
Lethal Chiefs striker Khama Billiat.
Image: BackpagePix

Amid Kaizer Chiefs' upturn, a lot of plaudits have gone to offensive players such as Samir Nurkovic, Dumisani Zuma and even midfielder Kearyn Baccus.

The pouring admiration of Chiefs' attacking players has mysteriously overshadowed the team's impressive defensive record as they've conceded just six goals from 10 Absa Premiership games so far.

It's only Maritzburg United and Wits who've leaked the equal number of goals, with the latter four games behind the league schedule, while the Team of Choice are one match adrift of Chiefs.

Heading into their crunch league encounter versus traditional rivals Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium tomorrow (3.30pm), Chiefs star Khama Billiat saw it vital to pay tribute to their solid rearguard.

"I need to give credit to our defence. Our defensive organisation is something that we've mastered very well. We don't concede as much as we used to," said Billiat at the Soweto derby media conference at Killarney Country Club in Johannesburg yesterday.

Billiat also credited his coach Ernst Middendorp for implementing the idea that attackers should also track back and defend, a trait he's been developing lately. "That's one thing that we didn't get right when the coach arrived. We never really knew our roles in certain moments. "We're starting to understand each other better and the coach's philosophy better."

Billiat also cleared the air regarding Thembinkosi Lorch's deliberate stamp on him in last week's Telkom Knockout quarterfinal Soweto derby. Chiefs prevailed 4-2 on penalties.

"I don't think there was something personal about that incident. It was a big game, emotions fly and the games like derbies come with a lot of pressure."

Meanwhile, Middendorp downplayed the importance of his impressive personal derby record, having never lost to Pirates as a Chiefs coach, with four wins and two draws.

"I do not believe in the past and I don't believe in statistics. I choose to deal with the present moment and be clear structured," noted Middendorp, who was uncertain if his pair of Baccus and Reeve Frosler will return tomorrow after missing the past two games through injuries.

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