‘We must conquer Africa’

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iol spt apr29 Chiefs Gallo Images Former Chiefs great Patrick Mabedi wants South African clubs to dominate continental competitions. Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Former Kaizer Chiefs captain Patrick Mabedi wants South African clubs to rid themselves of their narrow mindedness and start focusing on trying to dominate on the continent – not just in the PSL.

Mabedi captained the Amakhosi side that won the 2001 African Cup Winners’ Cup (Mandela Cup), which merged with the Caf Cup in 2004 to form the Caf Confederation Cup, the competition Chiefs were participating in before they were knocked out at the weekend by Asec Mimosa.

It’s not big as the Champions League, but Mabedi and his men had the desire to win silverware outside of the country back then, unlike the current group of players, including the technical staff, who showed no interest whatsoever to do well in the competition.

Chiefs were knocked out this year after losing 3-1 on aggregate to Ivorian club Mimosa and, naturally, Mabedi was disappointed.

Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter did not even attend the game, as Amakhosi left it to assistant coach Doctor Khumalo to guide a travelling squad of 13 players. On the bench, Chiefs only had goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo and rookie Lorenzo Gordinho, leaving behind their big name stars to concentrate on a league title race that is no longer in their hands.

“It was very important for us to do well in that competition (in 2001),” Mabedi said. “We told ourselves that we need to do it for Madiba (Nelson Mandela). He was a hero. Yes we knew that it was not as big as the Champions League, but we had passion, so we were willing to go out there and give it our all. The players were dedicated and mentally we were strong. It’s all about the mind. I think it is different these days. It seems to me the coach’s focus is on the league title in South Africa.”

That year, remembered as “operation vat alles”, Chiefs won everything bar the league title on home soil under the tutelage of Muhsin Ertugral. But the Cup Winners’ Cup was the biggest success of them all. They beat Angolan club Interclube 2-1 on aggregate in the final, Mabedi scoring the winner in the second leg on home soil to seal the win for Amakhosi. It’s a triumph they celebrated passionately, but the lack of desire in the current group was shocking.

“It was very special when we won it. It’s all about dominating in Africa, not only in your country. We were doing well domestically, but we also wanted to win something outside of South Africa. It’s important to do well in these competitions, because at the same time you are marketing your team.”

Mabedi says South African clubs should be using competitions like the Confederation Cup to help improve the standard of the ever-faltering Bafana Bafana.

The Malawian believes if clubs do well, it will augur well for the national team.

“It can make it easier for the national team when players are playing against strong competition in the continental club competitions. Then when they play for the national team, they are already used to playing at a higher level.”

In Abidjan at the weekend, Morgan Gould captained an inexperienced squad including the likes of Lucky Baloyi, Philani Cele, Simphiwe Mtsweni and Khotso Moleko.

Baxter will have his key players back for the league clash with Free State Stars in Polokwane tomorrow (7.30pm). Amakhosi, five points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns with a game in hand, have to win the clash to keep their hopes of defending their title alive.

Stars, meanwhile, could get automatically relegated if they continue to drop points. They are second from bottom, just three points ahead of bottom of the table club Golden Arrows, with three matches to play. Arrows have recently found form, which should be a big concern for Stars. - The Star



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