Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and given Msimango have stabilised kaizer chiefs’ defence

Rulani Mokwena sees early signs of improvement at Chiefs

Home » Rulani Mokwena sees early signs of improvement at Chiefs

It might be early days, but Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rulani Mokwena believes Kaizer Chiefs are showing signs of improvement under new coach Molefi Ntseki in the new season.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena said that he has seen Chiefs make strides in terms of their squad and their approach to the game. He suggested that the Soweto giants will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2023/24 season.

However, Mokwena admitted that Amakhosi still have some work to do as they are still finding their way.

The Soweto-born tactician was addressing the media at Sundowns’ base in Chloorkop on Wednesday as the Tshwane giants prepared to host Chiefs on Wednesday in a DStv Premiership clash.

The much-anticipated encounter will be staged at  Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, with kick-off set for 15:00. 


As is his custom, Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena was not hesitant to provide a detailed analysis of what he has seen of Chiefs under Ntseki.

“The starting point is we have to respect our opponent. Kaizer Chiefs are no different. You know the rivalry between Sundowns and Chiefs, and already that makes it a big encounter,” said Mokwena. 

“With the performances of the team, of course, you have to also engage with some of the technical changes made. They’ve got a new coach, so he needs time to work on his ideas and get the players to adapt to a different way of doing things.

Rulani MOKWENA signs

“It’s a bit clear that, even though they haven’t moved too far from the 4-2-3-1, there are moments where it’s a bit more aggressive with a 4-3-3 and the front three is a bit more in the advance line than in the previous season under coach Arthur Zwane. 

“That also shows in the profile. You’ve got Ranga [Chivaviro], possibilities of [Christian] Saile, who’s a striker, Ashley du Preez who plays upfront, so a front three that really is made up of strikers.

“They’ve kept with the midfield two with the base. [There] they’ve played around with the combination with [Edson] Castillo or [Sabelo] Zwane, or Castillo and [Siyethemba] Sithebe and [against Chippa] where they had Yusuf Maart and Castillo.

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“Then they have possibilities for a 10 [playmaker]. [Mduduzi] Mdantsane has been tried there, both inside and outside. [Tebogo] Potsane has been tried inside and outside in the friendlies. They had [Nkosingiphile] Ngcobo and [Mduduzi] Shabalala interchanging into that position [against Chippa].

“That gives them that possibility of having a second striker, and depending on the profile of the second striker it is either a central midfielder who collapses closer to the 6 and the 8, or a 10 who folds a bit closer to the 9.

“But you still have very aggressive fullbacks with Sifiso Hlanti and Reeve Frosler, so you know those possibilities of final-third entries and crosses.”

Mokwena added: “For sure, maybe the biggest improvement was that I think Chiefs’ two centrebacks give them a lot of stability this year. They were a lot stronger defending the box with Ditlhokwe and Msimango.

“Big respect to Chiefs. In the physical profile, they’ve got enough to hurt you both in open play and on set pieces.

“You’ve got to understand that it’s a team in the process of improving itself, and it does seem to me that qualitatively, they’ve improved a lot.”

Sundowns, who have won the league six times in a row, kicked off their new season with a 2-1 victory against Sekhukhune United in Polokwane on Friday.

On the other hand, Chiefs were held to a 0-0 draw by Chippa United in Durban on Sunday, with Mokwena and his technical team in the stands watching the game.

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