Kaizer Chiefs’ ’fearsome foursome’ plot Al Ahly’s demise
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JOHANNESBURG – Forget about the ‘Three Wise Men’. Kaizer Chiefs are preparing to push the envelope in their own unique way with their ’fearsome foursome’.
The ’fearsome foursome tag’, though, can only stick if the quartet of Molefi Ntseki, Stuart Baxter, Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard manage to inspire Amakhosi to their first ever Champions League crown this month in Casablanca, Morocco.
A season ago, Mamelodi Sundowns continued with their trend of having three coaches, after the departure of Pitso Mosimane. They appointed Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena as co-coaches, and Steve Komphela as a senior coach.
Many deemed the arrangement as a recipe for confusion.
But the coaching trio shut their critics up by winning the DStv Premiership title with a 13-point margin. Their only blemish in the league was a single defeat to Chiefs at home.
The Glamour Boys have taken the technical team restructuring process up a notch in the last few weeks. They’ve appointed Ntseki as the head of technical and youth development, and his predecessor and former superior Baxter as the senior team coach.
Zwane and Sheppard, who are serving as interim coaches – as Baxter is waiting for his work permit after the dismissal of Gavin Hunt late last term – will remain as assistants. It didn’t take long for the impact of having several bulls in one kraal to be felt at Naturena.
At the FNB Stadium, a week ago, Ntseki ditched his suit and “technical team boss” status and dressed up in tracksuits, joining Zwane and Sheppard in the dugout for the return leg of the Champions League semi-finals against Wydad Casablanca.
Ntseki was the most experienced, given that he has coached Bafana Bafana and some junior national teams. But he didn’t interfere with Zwane and Sheppard who were holding the fort. Instead, he was proving to be Baxter’s mouthpiece.
Before the game and during half-time,
Baxter and Molefi exchanged words. But for that, Baxter wasn’t seen by the fraternity as someone who doesn’t trust Zwane and Sheppard, instead as someone who didn’t want to come across as a dictator.
In the end, Chiefs were victorious on the night – despite holding Wydad to a goalless draw – as they had prevailed 1-0 on aggregate to set themselves up for a crunch final against defending champions Al Ahly – the Egyptian giants coached by Mosimane.
Before Mosimane joined the Red Devils, he enjoyed illustrious success during his seven-and-a-half-year stint with Sundowns. He won 11 trophies, including five league titles, the Champions League, Super Cup and four other domestic trophies.
During that spell, he had fierce battles with Baxter who was Chiefs and Supersport United coach between 2012-2015 and 20162017.
It is, however, Mosimane’s bench that is under pressure as they are the defending champions for the match scheduled for July 17, while the encounter is almost hosted at home – it will be in Casablanca at the Stade Mohammed V stadium of North African arch-rivals Wydad.
Chiefs, no doubt, will be happy to wear the underdog’s cap as that will lift the pressure off their shoulders.
A Chiefs win will be one of the biggest upsets in the history of the continental club tournament.
After their semi-final heroics, Baxter, Zwane, Sheppard and Ntseki will have good reason to quietly believe that a couple of tricks to frustrate the African champions in Casablanca may bear some fruit.