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Samir Nurkovic eyeing a first league title with Kaizer Chiefs

Samir Nurkovic (R) celebrates with Bernard Parker (L) after scoring a goal.
Samir Nurkovic (R) celebrates with Bernard Parker (L) after scoring a goal.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Samir Nurkovic says that he is not concerned by his goal ratio slowing down in the second half of the 2019-20 season‚ just so long as Kaizer Chiefs can go on to win the Absa Premiership.

Nurkovic’s goals‚ as the forceful‚ physical striker arrived from the Slovakian second division and set the Premiership alight at the start of the season‚ played a big part in Chiefs unexpectedly surging into a commanding lead by December.

However‚ it did seem noticeable that as goals for Nurkovic seemed harder to come by in 2020‚ so did the wins for Amakhosi – or vice versa.

Chiefs‚ who once enjoyed a 13-point gap in 2019‚ had just a four-point lead over second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns‚ who had a game in hand‚ when the Premier Soccer League (PSL) suspended matches due to the coronavirus on March 16.

“My goal-scoring ratio is not as important as the title at the end of the season. It is not about myself but about the team as a whole‚” Nurkovic said‚ suggesting that the slowing of the ratio was more down to unselfishness in the penalty area.

“If I see that a teammate is in a better position then I will pass the ball to them and not be selfish. The ultimate goal is to achieve three points at the end.”

Nurkovic raced to eight league goals in 13 matches by December‚ including a stirring hat trick in a 5-3 victory against Bloemfontein Celtic at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 7. That result came at the zenith of Amakhosi’s winning form in the league‚ as it marked eight wins in a row.

The Serbian striker scored three goals since then‚ as Chiefs’ momentum also became more staggered.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa brought football to a halt‚ the subsequent national lockdown leaving Chiefs‚ in their 50th anniversary season‚ facing a situation never before encountered by a title-chasing team.

“Yes‚ it will be my first league title‚” Nurkovic‚ who has played his career for a variety of Slovakian teams‚ confirmed.

“The lockdown is for safety‚ and our health is the priority. Right now we [Chiefs] have to stay mentally strong so that when the league resumes we come back stronger and do our best in the last eight games.”

Various options are being explored by the PSL‚ SA Football Association and government – and international safety models are being closely watched – for a safe return to football.