On Saturday, Kaizer Chiefs dropped two points by drawing 1-1 with Black Leopards in Thohoyandou.
Four key tactical factors in the result were as follows:
- Leopards Play Narrow
- Chiefs Change Shape & Struggle Wide
- Middendorp Adjusts at HT
- Leopards Improve Aerially
Leopards Play Narrow
For the start of this game, Cavin Johnson and his newly-added assistant, Alan Clark, set Leopards up in a narrow, compact midfield shape. Instead of using two wingers and a number ten, they went with players on the flanks who could tuck inside to compete with Kaizer Chiefs’ expected selection of a midfield diamond. Thabo Matlaba was on one flank, whilst Mogokolodi Ngele was on the other. This did a good job of controlling space in the middle. Leopards’ players got the ball 289 times in the first half compared to 194 touches for Chiefs players.
Chiefs Change Shape & Struggle Wide
For this game, Ernst Middendorp deviated from his usual back four to play a 3-5-2 formation. He often does that when facing wingers as he looks for his wingbacks to bomb forward and drive the opposition’s defenders back into defensive positions. However, his change to play one less midfielder backfired because of Leopards surprising him by using no wingers.
Having a lack of cover on the flanks, Chiefs often found themselves with two or three versus one situations to defend, and both Khuliso Mudau and Pentjie Zulu could get forward into advanced positions to overload Amakhosi. This led to some decent openings from third-man runs from deep.
Middendorp Adjusts At HT
As usual, Chiefs’ coach was decisive in correcting any tactical imbalances and took off Yagan Sasman at half-time for Kearyn Baccus, returning to this narrow midfield four to control the game. In the second period, Chiefs had 314 individual possessions of the ball compared to 227 for Leopards. However, they did not create many good openings in the second period besides two efforts deflecting narrowly wide and some headers when being challenged.
Leopards Improve Aerially
One of the biggest improvements in the second half was that Leopards did much better when challenging in the air. In the first half, they conceded from a corner and Leonardo Castro won several flick-ons to cause danger. Both Edwin Gyimah and Khomotso Masia focused on clearing the danger and fighting hard with Amakhosi’s target men. Between them, they made 40 clearances and won 13 aerial duels. Without dominance in the air, Chiefs looked to be lacking some creativity in their passing.
Did Chiefs deserve to win this game or were Leopards good value for their point? Let us know by commenting below!