In their title-winning season – under Stuart Baxter in 2015 – Kaizer Chiefs conceded a miserly 14 goals in 30 Absa Premiership matches.
Itumeleng Khune, Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse all shared the load between the sticks because of injuries. All had a hand in the impeccable number of clean sheets, with Khune managing eight (in 10 matches), Khuzwayo nine (in 16 matches) and Pieterse three (in 5 matches).
Their biggest Achilles heel this season has been in their last line of defence, long before Khune suffered a shoulder injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the current season. But his absence highlighted their weakness.
Amakhosi haven’t kept finished a game without conceding since January 16 – coincidentally a few days after Virgil Vries’ costly howler at home against Mamelodi Sundowns. One of the contributing factors to winning championships, coaches will often tell you, is “keeping zero at the back” – to quote serial title winner Pitso Mosimane. Ernst Middendorp has acknowledged the old adage about clean sheets, that they win you titles – an element Chiefs will have to deal with next season given that their title hopes this year are all but gone.
Here’s a look at their record during the 2018/19 league campaign:
Khune: 13 games, six clean sheets and 11 goals conceded.
Vries: five games, two clean sheets and five goals conceded.
Daniel Akpeyi (his Chiefs and Chippa United record combined): 21 games, six clean sheets and 25 goals conceded.
Bruce Bvuma: one game, 0 clean sheets and two goals conceded.