Did Kaizer Chiefs find their mojo during the Fifa break?
JOHANNESBURG - Fifa breaks are part and parcel of the football calendar but they can also be a double-edged sword for teams at club level, either breaking momentum or bringing a much needed regeneration.
Top flight giants Kaizer Chiefs will be hoping that they get the latter after an underwhelming start to their Premiership campaign.
Fresh from a gruelling end to last season, most of Amakhosi’s supporters were banking on new coach Gavin Hunt to instantly turn the club around, considering that he boasts an incredible record of eight titles – four league crowns and four cups.
But their transfer ban by Fifa means that Hunt will be stuck with an inherited squad for a season.
That turmoil, as expected, proved to be costly for Chiefs from the outset as they endured poor starts in the league and cup competitions.
With a shortened pre-season not helping their cause, Chiefs battled with injuries to some key players.
In the opening match of the inaugural DStv Premiership, they were outclassed 3-0 by champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who had pipped them to the title on the final day of the previous season.
But soon thereafter, Chiefs appeared to have regained their mojo in the league, churning out a reinvigorated performance away to Chippa United as they bagged all three points after a Gregory Damons own-goal in the second half.
Up next in the league was a visit from newbies TS Galaxy, a team that they were expected to defeat.
But coach Dan “Dance” Malesela’s side showed more intent and should have walked away with the win, with Chiefs hanging on for a draw.
But it is the embarrassment of the MTN8 that will haunt Chiefs most.
After a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Maritzburg United in the quarter-finals, Chiefs were expected to bring their A-game in the semifinals against arch rivals Orlando Pirates. But to say things went south would be an understatement.
The Buccaneers bossed both matches, winning the first leg 3-0 at home before sealing the contest with a 2-0 victory away.
But all those storms came before the break two weeks ago. Chiefs return to league action when they face Golden Arrows away on Saturday, and they’ll hope that calm will finally reign upon them again.
After all, the break should have given injured players a chance to get back to fitness and Hunt time to work on his best combinations going forward.
And failing to score in five matches, Chiefs will be pleased that they got a goal during their 1-1 draw with GladAfrica Championship side the University of Pretoria in a friendly match during the break.