JOHANNESBURG – If Kaizer Chiefs are to regain their prestigious tag as “Cup kings of South African football” they’ll need all the confidence they can get during the 2019/20 pre-season.
Amakhosi are at one of their lowest points having gone through a four-year barren run under coaches Steve Komphela, Giovanni Solinas and Ernst Middendorp.
With a recent 1-0 loss in the final of the Nedbank Cup to National First Division side TS Galaxy, who have been in existence for less than a year, Chiefs will be hoping to turn things around next season.
Chiefs are offered a morale booster should they beat arch rivals Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup on July 27 at FNB Stadium.
Speaking at the launch yesterday at Park Station in Joburg, Chiefs vice-captain Willard Katsande said that winning on all fronts is the only way they can revive the club’s glory days.
“The Black Label is not an easy cup,” Katsande said. “It’s actually a huge cup because we know the history of the two clubs that there’s no friendly match.
“It will be our first competitive match of the pre-season and it’s going to gauge how far we are. When we win against Pirates, it gives you an extra boost going forward. We need to give our all and try to redeem ourselves.”
In the wake of a season Katsande has described as “embarrassing”, there’s uncertainty about the future of some of the players and members of the technical team.
The future of Middendorp has been the talk of town as he failed to deliver any substantial reason why he should continue as Chiefs' coach.
In six months in charge, the German led Chiefs to ninth place in the Absa Premiership, ensuring they won’t play in the coveted MTN8 tournament early next season for the first time in almost 13 years.
In addition, their inability to qualify for continental football through the Nedbank Cup left a bitter taste for the club’s supporters.
While Katsande is still confident that his future is safe at the club for now, as he was sent out to represent the players yesterday, Middendorp was nowhere to be seen as Chiefs sent his deputy Shaun Bartlett.
“I am here giving you the interviews, meaning that I’m part of the future until told otherwise,” Katsande said. “At the moment I am a Kaizer Chiefs player and captain, and that why I am here to speak on behalf of the team.”
Asked where Middendorp was, Katsande gave a cautious response: “Coach Shaun is there so it’s just about choosing representatives. So there’s nothing much.”
Meanwhile, in attendance at the launch of the eighth edition of the unique Black Label Cup was Arsenal legend Ian Wright.
The former England striker admitted he had never been to an event that was controlled by the supporters as it is the fans who select the starting Xls and substitutes for both teams involved.