JOHANNESBURG – With the curtain coming down on the Absa Premiership and the pretenders being separated from the real contenders, Kaizer Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele has realistically excused his team from the title race.
Amakhosi have, just like in the last three seasons, found the going tough in the quest to challenge for league honours this campaign.
Currently they are seventh on the log with 32 points and are eight adrift of leaders Orlando Pirates, with only eight games remaining.
Chiefs find themselves in this quagmire because of the bizarre decision of appointing Giovanni Solinas, who never had what it was going to take to lead his side to glory, as their coach, hence he only lasted five months in the role.
Enter Ernst Middendorp, who has been a breath of fresh air at the Glamour Boys. But the team has also had its own frailties under Middendorp, those being, a loose defensive structure and a rusty attacking unit. As a result, according to Mphahlele, Middendorp’s appointment was a bit too late in terms of enabling them to challenge for the league.
“Honestly speaking, for us, it’s unrealistic (to win the league). Maybe had the (new) technical team come a little bit earlier, we’d be talking a different story,” he said.
“Maybe had we collected the points that we were supposed to collect, we’d be talking a different story. It will be unrealistic for us to say, we want to win the league when we are seventh (on the log) - then that would mean Polokwane City (who are sixth) would have a chance to win the league.
“For now, the team goal is to finish in a better position.”
The last time Chiefs bagged a trophy was in the 2014/15 season when they clinched the MTN8 and Absa Premiership.
A season later,Mphahlele joined Chiefs hoping to add to the bagful of silverware that he had clinched at former club Mamelodi Sundowns.
But it’s been disappointing so far. And with the league out of reach, and two domestic competitions - the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout - also gone, it’s only the Nedbank Cup that’s up for grabs.
In South Africa’s premier club competition, Chiefs will battle with Cape Town City for a place in the last four. Due to the magnitude of that game, Mphahlele is hoping that his teammates can give their best in the remaining matches of the competition.
“We can control the Nedbank Cup, it’s in our hands but we obviously have a very difficult opponent,” he said.
“But for us to win it, we have to beat these guys. It causes stress and pressure (thinking that if we lose the Nedbank) we’ll have another barren season.
“We just have to give it our full attention, and go for it.
“I think if we push this Nedbank, maybe it can break this dark cloud and we can start winning trophies. But I am hopeful we’ll do well.”
Before Mphahlele and company can start thinking about silverware though, they’ve got to work on consolidating a respectable finish in the league - something that will be attained through winning matches.
Up next is bottom club Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium tomorrow.
The former South Africa Under-23 captain foresees a tightly contested encounter, but remains optimistic of grabbing all three points.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game for us.
“They are fighting for their lives at the bottom and hoping to save the club, but unfortunately we need the points so that we can finish in a better position on the log.
“We want to win the game and we’ll give it everything,” Mphahlele concluded.@Mihlalibaleka