Are Kaizer Chiefs letting players go too early before Nabi’s arrival?

Siyethemba Sithebe expressed his gratitude for having donned the black and gold of Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: BackpagePix

Siyethemba Sithebe expressed his gratitude for having donned the black and gold of Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 27, 2024


Comment by Smiso Msomi

The period of incomings and outgoings has begun in the DStv Premiership as clubs attempt to trim the fat off their squads ahead of the 2024/2025 campaign.

All 16 clubs in the division are paging through their team sheets, and are deep in discussions formulating efficient groups of players for what is expected to be another exciting season.

Leading the interest in that regard is the behind-the-scenes work at Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs, who are under tons of pressure that is threatening to break down the club’s doors.

The Amakhosi have been widely reported to be in the midst of plans to bring in an entirely new technical team, with two arrivals already getting their hands dirty at their Naturena-based facility.

Just days after the arrival of Fernando de Cruz (the assistant to incoming head coach Nasreddine Nabi) and strength and conditioning coach Majdi Safi, the club is said to have released four big-name players.

Vice-captain Keagan Dolly leads the list, with defenders Sifiso Hlanti and Njabulo Ngcobo, and midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe also in search of new homes.

The four players’ contracts were due to expire at the end of this month, and the club elected to not exercise the option to extend their stays.

Sithebe penned an open letter to the club that signed him in 2022 as a free agent, and expressed his gratitude for having donned the black and gold of the Glamour Boys.

“I’m giving thanks to the Khosi nation for the time I got playing for them, my hands are above my head. Wish you the best season and in future,” he stated on his social media accounts.

However, these departures, although welcomed by some of the club’s loyal supporters, have raised questions around whether Chiefs are allowing the incoming technical team to assume full control over the kind of players they want at their disposal.

Dolly, a leader in the dressing room, has divided opinions during his stint with Chiefs on his way to netting 14 goals and recording 11 assists in 67 games. Yet he is perhaps a man Nabi would have wanted on his side, considering his set-piece-taking abilities as well.

A similar observation could be made for the 2020/2021 defender of the season Ngcobo, who made a handful of appearances in the last campaign under Molefi Ntseki and Cavin Johnson.

For a club that has been frequently criticised for a failure to let coaches be managers and steer the Chiefs ship as they see fit, they haven’t done much to allay those fears.

The most successful projects in world football, as well as on the domestic front, have recently been ones that have given the head coach room to shift and place the squad as they please.

Mamelodi Sundowns gave Pitso Mosimane the keys way back in 2012, a trend that has been kept up by Rulani Mokwena as well, and have now reaped the rewards of that decision for over a decade, the kind of success associated with Chiefs in the past.

It is fair to state that although club owners are at liberty to control the functionality of their businesses, football decisions need to be delegated adequately and with a great vision for the future.

If Amakhosi are to reclaim their long lost crown, perhaps they might need to take a page out of the book of the most dominant club in the country at the moment.