Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows at Soccer City, Johannesburg on 02 June 2021 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows at Soccer City, Johannesburg on 02 June 2021 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs seniors’ last dance might come via winning the coveted Caf Champions League

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Jul 15, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs sent their supporters into a frenzy when they announced their new signings last week. But a number of senior players might want to leave the club with a bang, given that they are yet to commit to long-term deals after their contracts expired in June.

For these seniors, that last dance might come via winning the coveted Caf Champions League.

Chiefs will play in their first ever final of the African premier club knock-out competition when they cross paths with Al Ahly at Stade Mohammed V on Saturday.

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The Amakhosi squad that jetted out to Morocco yesterday was made up of the players that were registered early this season while newbies Sibusiso Mabiliso, Kgaogelo Sekgota, Njabulo Ngcobo, Bradon Peterson Phathutshedzo Nange and Sifiso Hlanti were left behind.

But for players such as captain Bernard Parker, Willard Katsande, Kgotso Moleko, Lebogang Manyama, Khama Billiat, Philani Zulu and Brylon Petersen their future is up in the air as their contracts were only extended for a month ahead of the showdown in Casablanca.

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Of the lot, Billiat remains the only player who has won the Champions League, having achieved that feat with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016. His contribution to Chiefs this season has been minimal, due to injury.

It has, however, been Parker, Katsande and Manyama who have made significant contributions to the team as they punched above their weight to reach the final and ensured that the team snuck into the top eight of the Premiership on the last day of the season. Parker and Katsande have been at Chiefs for 10 years.

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They have won four trophies: two league crowns, the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup.

The only blemish in their domestic trophy collection was missing out on the now defunct Telkom Knockout under coach Stuart Baxter.

The Brit has since returned for a second spell at the club in the past few weeks, replacing fired coach Gavin Hunt.

Baxter is yet to receive his work permit, with Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard serving as interim coaches, but he prepares the team.

And that's why he will be hoping his influence on matchday can lead the team to the Champions League crown. After all, the only coach who has been fortunate at Amakhosi, recently, is him.

He was the last man to deliver silverware to the club's trophy cabinet in 2015.

Parker, Katsande, et al are all playing for their contracts. But Baxter has said that he won't be out to rock the boat.

He believes that his four predecessors have done a sterling job, despite failing to win a trophy in the last five seasons.

Baxter will be hoping he controls player transfers.

Chiefs need a squad overhaul, given that was one of the mandates listed in the supporters' memorandum of concern that was submitted to the club's headquarters in Naturena in early May.

But for now, the players in Morocco should play with their hearts on their sleeves and ensure that "it comes home".

It's been five years since Sundowns won Champions League, and 26 since Orlando Pirates were crowned the African champions. This should be Chiefs' time to shine!

@MihlaliBaleka

IOL Sport

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