Former Kaizer Chiefs player and assistant coach Doctor Khumalo. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The Doctor Khumalo cheerleaders must take a chill pill. They are to blame for the job title of technical director having a whole new twisted meaning in SA football, other than what it’s really supposed to be - an intermediary between the board and the coach.

It’s puzzling that in 49 days since Doctor Khumalo accepted that role at surprise Absa Premiership log leaders Baroka FC, he’s suddenly the man being applauded for the club’s swift shift from being outright relegation candidates to slowly turning into dark horses this early in the season.

Lately, every Baroka victory is Khumalo-inspired. Really? He’s been there all of two minutes - surely it doesn’t take a little over a month to completely change the mentality of an entire club.

There’s no doubt the former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs legend has had something to do with this meteoric rise. The idea behind having a director of football or a sporting director is a growing trend globally and it’s clear the Bakgaga are keeping up with the way of the world as the game evolves by having recruited Khumalo.

But to have some people downright ignoring what is clearly the hard work of coach Kgoloko Thobejane, chairman Khurishi Mphahlele and CEO Morgan Mammilla and simply giving credit to one man, is extremely short-sighted.

Sure, Baroka were nearly relegated back to the NFD after just one season in the topflight, and Thobejane, Mphahlele and Mammilla had preconceived ideas that it would be all smooth sailing brushing shoulders with the big boys.

We now know they learnt their lessons the hard way, so vivid were the tough experiences that they approached their sophomore year in the Premier League with an aggressive strategy, one which included them convincing Khumalo to leave behind his comfort zone at Chiefs and become one of the brains at Baroka.

But a lot of the meticulous planning, like the recruitment of players for instance - an important part of winning matches - had long been in motion. So, for Khumalo to be hailed the Messiah is absolutely myopic.

The scenes of the great ‘16V’ embracing Chiefs fans on Saturday night after Baroka’s 2-1 win over Amakhosi at the Moses Mabhida Stadium as they begged him to return to Naturena to aid the struggling Glamour Boys, also show their fickle nature. 

Those very supporters were on the brink of collapsing when there were talks that perhaps Khumalo should be considered good enough to take over from Stuart Baxter when the Scotsman quit in June 2015.

Khumalo had been his assistant in the three years in which Chiefs won the championship twice. He’s not ready, they said. Well, is he ready now despite being demoted to a gloried scout at Chiefs by Komphela, the man who eventually replaced Baxter?

What happens then if Bakgaga’s wheels come off later on in the season? Will Khumalo equally shoulder the blame?

Thobejane remains a maverick of note and at times the way he speaks of the club’s ambitions doesn’t quite reflect reality, almost a little too ambitious given that Baroka are only in their second year playing in the elite division.

But that shouldn’t mean someone else should be given all the credit for his craft. It’s unfair. So, the Khumalo brigade must sit down until further notice.

The Star

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