Kaizer Chiefs playing for more than just pride at the end of tough season
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JOHANNESBURG - The winds of change have started blowing at Kaizer Chiefs, creating great euphoria ahead of the new season.
But a perfect ending to the current season for the club could slightly heal the wounds of the past, and lay a consolidated foundation heading to the future.
The appointment of Molefi Ntseki as the head of technical and youth academy may prove to be a master stroke by Chiefs.
Since their establishment, Chiefs were known to have one of the best academies – not only structurally, but through the equipped personnel running the show as well.
Ntseki is no stranger to the junior structures. In fact, that’s where he excelled as a coach at the South African Football Association (Safa) structures before climbing up the pecking order, and eventually landing the Bafana Bafana coaching job, where he was fired in March.
But while Arthur Zwane, one of the current interim coaches, has turned raw talents into senior team superstars at Chiefs, not every head coach has endorsed the succession plan.
Recently-fired coach Gavin Hunt was forced to use the youngsters following the team’s transfer ban. But he, too, stressed that they cannot regularly depend on the inexperienced players week in and week out.
Ntseki’s job will be to ensure that he changes that narrative, in conjunction with the incoming coach, as long as the players are good enough.
Chiefs, however, still have a lot to play for this term. They are guaranteed to play four matches – two in the league and two in the Champions League.
But if they were to make it five matches by reaching the final of the pan-African competition, their past failures might not necessarily influence their future plans, some might reckon.
Chiefs head into the last two games of their league season today and Saturday in need of wins. Not only will those wins keep their slim chances of qualifying for the top eight alive, but they’ll also serve as huge morale booster heading into the Champions League semi-final.
The Glamour Boys will host Golden Arrows at the FNB Stadium this afternoon (5pm kick-off) in a ‘six-pointer’.
Chiefs are languishing in the bottom half of the standings, with their fate of qualifying for the top eight out of their hands as the teams above them are leading by a significant amount of points. All they can do is to win their matches, and hope that certain permutations go their way.
That won’t be easy, though, as Arrows are chasing a first top-three finish, which would guarantee them their first ever qualification for continental football next season.
Arrows are third on the standings, and level on points with Orlando Pirates (46). Their counter-attacking football has been a nightmare to deal with for many teams this season.
They’ve been solid defensively as well, with Sifiso Mlungwana nominated for the Goalkeeper of the Season award.
Chiefs have been disorganised, especially after losing their last game against relegation-threatened Black Leopards. They drew first blood in that match, before Leopards clawed their way back into the game.
After Arrows, Chiefs will be away to TS Galaxy in the final game of the league season.
And should they get full points from these two matches, even if they don’t qualify for the top eight, they’ll be high on confidence heading into back-to-back matches against Wydad Casablanca in the Champions League.