It was a subdued and worried Roger Sikhakhane that addressed the media after his side’s 1-0 loss to Maritzburg United at Athlone on Friday night.
|Roger Sikhakhane @ Backpagepix
The result leaves the Cape side in 13th position, and while it’s still early days, improvements will be needed if the team is to avoid concerning itself with the relegation zone later this season.
The Chilli Boys manager will be a concerned man as looks to avoid being the captain of a sinking ship.
The Cape side were for the most part outplayed by a well organised and determined Maritzburg side, and offered very little in terms of going forward on attack, their efforts at times disjointed and lacking cohesion, despite the attempts by Cole Alexander to drive the side forward.
Friday night’s sub-par showing would only have fuelled Sikhakhane’s growing headache as his players begin to lose confidence.
“It was a very tough game and a bad result, especially at home. We still need to improve a lot, we need to strengthen certain areas and look at changing our game-plan.
“Maritzburg were ready for us. While I think the previous loss (to Chiefs) may have affected our players physiologically. We need to get this out of their minds going forward,” he said.
Sikhakhane is Chippa’s third coach this season after Manqoba Mngqithi left the club, with Julius Dube having taken charge for a couple of games as stand-in manager.
Sikhakhane is now finding it difficult to implement his philosophies with the season already nearly a quarter of the way in.
“For me, I jumped on the running train. So I am having to rectify certain positions as we go, starting from the back, going forward. But I can assure you that in the next game you will see a different ball game.
“When I joined the club, they already had 40 players on the books. So we are trying to clean up the squad. Its difficult for me to ask the chairman to sign five or 10 players. But we have one new player who will make a difference (Sikhakhane would only reveal that this player has been recruited from the African continent).
“Going forward we need to look at playing too deep and allowing our opponents space, and put the right players in the positions. In the last two games the system that we tried is not working for us, so we need to change,” he added.
For Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp it was a satisfying night as his team put in a solid performance.
“I’m happy about the result and the performance, especially after losing at home to Wits last week,” said the former Kaizer Chiefs mentor.
“We had possibilities to score a second or third goal perhaps. Second half, away from home, it’s about working hard, not to sit back, but to keep moving forward and to keep possession, with purpose.
“In total we had a good performance from all the players. A young guy like Philani Zulu did very well. He’s a left footer on the right wing, I know it’s unusual but it worked.
“Byrone Hendricks had a very good performance in his position as holding midfielder in front of the defence. He was outstanding.”