Kaizer Chiefs need Gavin Hunt’s appointment to bear fruit in race for top eight
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JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs appeared to have caught the biggest fish in the ocean after appointing Gavin Hunt as their new head coach this season. But that appointment is yet to bear fruit as Hunt is in a race against time to ensure the team finishes in the top eight.
There are four league matches remaining before the curtain comes down on Chiefs’ season. But their top eight finish aspirations are looking blurry as they are ninth on the standings with 29 points, three behind eighth-placed TS Galaxy who have a game in hand.
The Glamour Boys didn’t start the season well, their plans ruined by the inability to sign players. But with time, under the guidance of multiple championship winning coach Hunt, most of their supporters would have expected a change of fortunes.
But that hasn’t been the case as they’ve been playing in patches.
After handing league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns their first defeat two weeks ago, Chiefs choked, losing to strugglers Chippa United and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Between those two matches, Chiefs were held to a draw by Bloemfontein Celtic after squandering a 2-0 lead. Chiefs’ loss of concentration when it matters most has often let them down.
Against Celtic, they looked to be on course to bag their second win in a week. But a foul inside the penalty area early in the second half marked Phunya Sele Sele’s comeback. Against Tshakhuma, Siyabonga Ngezana, again, conceded a penalty for his side in stoppage time.
Hunt was frustrated with Ngezana’s clumsiness in defence in successive outings, saying: "Same player. It doesn't help. It is what it is. We just have to battle on. We have four games left. Obviously, we are going to try and win them. And then see from there."
Hunt appears to have held his tongue this season. Instead of calling out players for their blunders, apart from the goalkeeping department, he has shied behind: “I can’t say what the problem is. But I know what I know. And that’s why things are like this.“
Those sentiments suggest that Hunt might not be happy with how the club management operates, especially with the club being a family business. Kaizer Motaung is the chairman, while his son Bobby is the Football Manager, for instance.
Hunt can still salvage Chiefs’ season if he wins their last four league matches. But that’s easier said than done as their opponents are also looking for respectable finishes: either the top of the table spot, top eight finish, survival or continental football qualification.
With their aspirations of challenging for local silverware null and void, Chiefs will look to end their six-year trophy drought via the Champions League. They’ll meet Tanzanian giants Simba SC in backto-back matches in the quarter-finals from next week.
Chiefs will have the weekend off due to the Nedbank Cup final between Tshakhuma and Chippa, before hosting Swallows FC in the derby, but Hunt and his troops must probably use the time off to reflect on their shortcomings ahead of the conclusion of the season.