Amakhosi challenge a true test for Gavin Hunt
JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs’ new commander-in-chief Gavin Hunt has arrived at the club with a lofty billing but he’ll know that anything short of success in his new post could dent his illustrious career that has spanned over two decades.
The 56-year-old coach put pen to paper as Chiefs’ coach this week, signing a three-year deal. Hunt replaced Ernst Middendorp whose charges lost their stranglehold on the Premiership title race on the last day of the season.
Chiefs losing the championship race to Mamelodi Sundowns meant that they extended their barren run to five seasons. The Glamour Boys’ disappointment coincided with the fact that Hunt had become jobless after the sale of Bidvest Wits.
The Cape Town-born coach is expected to return the glory days to the Soweto giants. Hunt brings renewed hope to Naturena following a 25-year coaching career in South African football. He has eight titles to his name, which include four championships – three with Supersport United and one with the defunct Wits.
But Hunt will know that he’ll have to take his game up a notch at Chiefs, who are the most popular club in South African football during their 50-year existence. Hunt’s success will not come at free will, considering that the club is family-run.
Kaizer Motaung remains the supremo, while son Bobby and daughter Jessica also call the shots as they hold the reins as team manager and marketing manager respectively. So, having been outspoken about his demands from the management, Hunt’s voice may come second-best in the boardroom.
But while the relationship is still at honeymoon phase, Hunt and the board will know that they need several reinforcements in the team if they are to challenge for local and continental honours.
What stands between Hunt and his squad renovation is that the club is currently sanctioned with a one-year ban by Fifa, following irregularities in the signing of Madagascan forward Andriamirado Andrianarimanana two years ago.
Chiefs’ appeal was heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on September 9. But while they hope that the sanction is lifted, Hunt will be optimistic that his former players Thabang
Monare and Sifiso Hlanti will still be available.
The experienced former Wits duo were released by new kids on the block Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila – the club that bought the status of the Clever Boys in the premier division ahead of the new campaign which is expected to start next month.
But with Chiefs’ battle with Fifa still in motion, Hunt will have to start thinking of Plan B should the outcome go south. According to the rumour mill, among the coaches that are expected to assist Hunt next season is Arthur Zwane.
And therein could lay Hunt’s trump card if they can’t sign new players next season. The club legend boasts an incredible knowledge about the history and culture of Amakhosi. But his role as the head coach of development last season makes him stand head and shoulders above other candidates.
Zwane has promoted a number of youngsters into the senior team in the past few seasons. And he’d be a strong advisor to Hunt who has his back against the wall as the club is banking on his coaching experience to yield instant results.