JOHANNESBURG – Bevan Fransman was reluctant at first. But once he gave in, he offered a sober analysis of why Kaizer Chiefs have fallen so low that the most successful team in the country has gone four seasons without a trophy.
The questioned put to the two-time league winner with Ted Dumitru’s Chiefs, is what’s the difference between that team and the current crop?
As an outsider, now at Highlands Park but still with fond memories of the club, Fransman is in a perfect position to analyse the changes.
“I don’t think that it’s really nice to make comparisons about different teams,” Fransman said. “I was fairly young then, I was 19-20. The squad that we had was a squad of superstars. Let’s be honest, they were household names in South Africa and former Bafana Bafana players.
To get into the line-up was an achievement as a 19-year-old. At that time whatever team that was going to be put out, I think it’s the same with Sundowns today, it was a quality team. You didn’t have to coach those guys. You had players who would change things on the field without Ted’s knowledge.”
Fransman continued, “You had experienced players, young and upcoming players. The hottest young property at that time, Jabu Pule (now Mahlangu), was at Chiefs. Stanton Fredericks was in his prime. Fabian McCarthy was fantastic. (Patrick) Mabedi was an international player. The list goes on. John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, come on! The best No 10 we have seen in a very long time. I don’t think that we will ever see a No 10 like that.
The closest we got was Teko (Modise). It was a different time. I don’t know, maybe Chiefs has lost a little bit of aura about them. There was a lot of aura at that time.”
The current generation doesn’t have that aura and also can’t say that they boast some of the best players in the country. Itumeleng Khune and Khama Billiat are the only Chiefs players who can walk into any starting XI in the country. Amakhosi also don’t have the pull that they had in the transfer window which allowed them to attract some of the best players in the country. They are currently living on past glory, which they need to change if they are to challenge for the championship.
The conservative nature of Steve Komphela didn’t just leave the club with no trophy in his three seasons at the helm, it led to teams undermining the Soweto giants. Teams rise to the occasion whenever they play Amakhosi, but towards the end of Komphela’s spell it didn’t just end there. Teams took on Chiefs with the belief that they could beat them.
“Teams were scared to play Kaizer Chiefs (in the past),” Fransman said. “Sometimes I played at left-back, can you imagine me at left-back? But I could manage because nobody attacked us, ever! They were scared to attack us because of what our attacking players could do. It was a time I enjoyed and I learned a lot.”
Chiefs have to bring back the fear factor by raising their game. Ernst Middendorp is instilling a fear factor in Amakhosi, threatening players with the axe if they don’t buy into his game plan of being more aggressive and competitive.
The German raised an interesting point when he said some players stopped working hard after signing for Chiefs since they have achieved their goal.
For things to change, those players need to realise that signing for the club is the beginning of their careers and not the ultimate.