JOHANNESBURG. — Coach Norman Mapeza has laid the emphasis on defensive discipline and communication since his arrival at Chippa United and has reaped the rewards as his South African Premiership football club ended the year in 10th place.
Just a fortnight earlier they had been bottom of the South African Absa Premiership but the Zimbabwean has proven a magician in turning things around for the Port Elizabeth-based club since his arrival in early October.
“The defensive performance over the last five games has been fantastic‚“ said Mapeza as he looked back on his first three months in charge.
“It’s all about communication. If you communicate‚ it brings cohesion and organisation and if there is good organisation it means good concentration.
“But if there is no communication‚ then definitely there is no organisation.
“Communication starts with the goalkeeper‚ it goes to the fullbacks and the centre backs.
“If they communicate well‚ those guys‚ and maintain the distance between themselves and between the midfielders‚ we are then solid in terms of our defending.”
Mapeza said his priority when he first arrived at the club was to shore up the defence. “If you are building a house‚ you must start with the foundation.
“I said‚ look let’s sort out the back first. That was where my main worry was.
“What I’ve picked up here is that it’s not easy to get points. So‚ if you can go out and get a draw‚ it’s a golden point.
“If you get organised at the back then upfront will sort itself out.”
But it is not yet a completed job‚ he added.
“There are so many things that still need to be fixed.
“For now‚ I’m happy the guys have been working so hard. We are defending as a group‚ it’s not just the goalkeeper and the back four but a collective effort.
“You can see the wide players are dropping back to defend‚ the midfielders drop back.
“It’s still a work in progress; sometimes they get lost‚ but so far‚ so good.”
Chippa have won four of their last five games after being the last of the 16 top flight teams to register a win this season.
“Now it’s all about planning for the next game. We don’t have time to celebrate‚“ said Mapeza.
Chippa United’s next game is an away game against Polokwane City at Peter Mokaba Stadium on January 4.
Polokwane City is the home of two Zimbabwean players goalkeeper George Chigova and striker Walter Musona.
Meanwhile, SuperSport United must put aside immediate thoughts of being South African Premiership title contenders and go back to a game-by-game approach for the second half of the season after slipping at the weekend and falling 11 points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, says their Zimbabwean coach Kaitano Tembo.
SuperSport ended 2019 with a 1-0 loss at Mapeza’s Chippa United in Port Elizabeth at the weekend and looked flat by Tembo’s own admission.
“It was a very disappointing result. If you want to fight for the league you need to be consistent, you need to win games, five, six in a row, but if you cannot do that you are always going to have to play catch up. “We had an opportunity against Chippa to close the gap a little bit but we didn’t and that’s one area where we need to improve.
“The gap is now too big, so we need to focus on closing the gap first before we start speaking about the title.”
But Tembo still believes SuperSport have the right resources to go on and take a first title since 2010.
“We’ve got a very good team, to be honest we’ve got enough talent to really give it a go but at the same time I think we’ve got a few youngsters and (with them) you are going to have games where you don’t finds the consistency.
“We have to make sure we keep believing in them and motivating them.
“We just have to regroup and focus on the next game.”
SuperSport have an immediate opportunity to cut into Chiefs’ lead in the New Year when they host the top of the table team in Atteridgeville on January 4 and then also meet fellow frontrunners Mamelodi Sundowns later in the month. — TimesAlive.