IOL soccer writer Njabulo Ngidi.

The crisis that Kaizer Chiefs is in should lead to the club doing serious introspection in how they do business as they are lagging behind their rivals and they’ll continue to do so if they don’t change their approach.

Three seasons without a trophy is a crisis for the cup kings of South African football. Steve Komphela wasn’t the only problem in this barren run; he was part of it. The bigger problem remains in Naturena even after Komphela’s departure. That problem isn’t a person but rather how Chiefs do business.

Chiefs’ approach in finding talent, whether it’s a coach or player, relies more on luck than sound scouting and analysis. You just have to look at the high turnover of players who have been signed and then released a season later to show how much the club has been struggling in this department. 

Years ago Chiefs’ biggest pull was that they were the biggest club in the country with the biggest fan-base and most trophies. They used that status to draw players as it was a dream to play for them.

But that power isn’t that effective alone anymore. Money and success also contribute to where players want to go which is why Chiefs haven’t been as strong as they used to be in the transfer market. 

If Amakhosi can’t compete financially in the transfer market, they need to invest in a good scouting network instead of relying on agents.

The most important person at Free State Stars in the last decade has been Themba Sithole whose eye for talent has made the club millions. He finds rough diamonds all over the country and continent that the club refine and then sell for millions. 

Amakhosi need a person like Sithole on their books. A person who will travel the length and breadth of the country and continent to find talent. The market has just gone so insane that it’s hard to compete in it.

Steve Komphela was recently sacked at Kaizer Chiefs after a string of poor results. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The way Chiefs look for talent shouldn’t end at players but also at coaches. One can only wonder where they found their technical advisor Rob Hutting whose CV is less than impressive. 

Chiefs’ football manager Bobby Motaung justified hiring Hutting by saying that he isn’t an internet coach. Internet coach or not, a club of Chiefs’ stature should at least hire someone with some pedigree.

But the club has done this a lot, plucking unknowns from the obscurities of Europe and handing them the biggest coaching job in South Africa. 

Most of the coaching success has been through luck rather than Chiefs identifying an individual who understands their culture and fits in well in their vision. Vladimir Vermezovic was probably playing marbles in Serbia when they hired him, without much of a coaching pedigree.

Stuart Baxter was brought by the club despite being creative with his CV. If extensive work was done to assess him, Chiefs would have picked that up first instead of being told by the media.

Baxter might have succeeded with the first team but part of his mandate was improving the club’s academy. He dismally failed in that regard and how he treated young players shows why there wasn’t much talent coming through from the club’s academy during his time.

Due diligence on what type of a coach he was would have highlighted that. 

It’s not just Baxter and Vermezovic whose appointments at Amakhosi were shocking. If you look at the club’s list of coaching appointments you’ll realise just how much Chiefs have “gambled” with the people they have hired.

The sad part is their willingness to hire unproven European coaches but take an eternity to give proven South African coaches a chance. This is not a European versus local coaches column. This is about Chiefs needing to do due diligence in their sourcing for talent  especially coaches.

Steve Komphela during training before he was fired as Kaizer Chiefs coach. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

At the moment they are looking at Avram Grant. That appointment would be a public relations nightmare due to him being an Israeli. 

It would also be difficult for them to travel to Muslim countries should they qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup or finally realise Kaizer Motaung’s dream of participating in the Fifa Club World Cup.

To participate in that tournament you have to win the Caf Champions League and to win that tournament you have to crack the stranglehold Arab countries have in the continent.

How will you do that with a coach who can’t easily move in the continent you want to conquer? The problem is that Chiefs have consistently said they want to do this, and then they go the opposite direction. How they get out of this crisis will shape the club’s future.

Saturday Star

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