Nabi will have his work cut out to rebuild Chiefs

The Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeping department is in flux and it remains to be seen where No 1 choice Bruce Bvuma will fit in next season. | BackpagePix

The Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeping department is in flux and it remains to be seen where No 1 choice Bruce Bvuma will fit in next season. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 8, 2024



NASREDDINE Nabi’s imminent arrival at Kaizer Chiefs will present sweet and bitter fortunes for the current crop of the players at the club.

There’ll be those who will be given a fresh start and chance to impress, while it’s also inevitable that some will be shown the exit door. Chiefs have already started the cleaning camp, releasing Keagan Dolly, Siyethemba Sithebe, Njabulo Ngcobo and Sifiso Hlanti amid the expiry of their contracts.

But whoever stays and goes between now and the time the Tunisian arrives, Chiefs still need to ensure that they bolster all departments – goalkeeping, defence, midfield and attack.

Amakhosi were porous all around under Cavin Johnson last season, with players who came in during the winter and summer transfer windows hardly looking like their old selves. A large chunk of that feat has to be credited to poor coaching – something that leaves a bitter taste, given the then pedigree of Johnson.

So, with more damage done than good, it would be unrealistic to expect Nabi and his staff jto turn the current crop of players from being off-form to world-beaters during the pre-season camp, which includes an ongoing tour in Türkiye.

That’s why the club’s administration, together with Nabi’s performance analyst Ayman Makroud, must quickly get their teeth into things and identify the new material they’ll need for next season.

Bruce Bvuma ascended to become the club’s No 1 during the second half of the season and started off well. But the wheels came off towards the end as he forgot how to keep clean sheets.

His deputy, Brandon Petersen, has either been a victim of blunders between the sticks or ill-discipline such as ‘coaching’ or having a go at referees when he’s on the bench. And with the future of veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune up in the air after his contract ended in June, Chiefs need to find a third goalkeeper who will compete with Bvuma and Petersen for the No 1 spot.

Bvuma cannot be the only player to be blamed for the lack of clean sheets, though. His defence let him down – he either made schoolboy errors, or was a victim of injuries or ill-discipline. While injuries are part and parcel of the game, the other two frailties are embarrassing for a unit that is made up of international players.

The Mozambican captain, Edmilson Dove, was the biggest culprit in that regard, suffering back-to-back suspensions and two red cards when Chiefs were fighting to finish in the top-eight.

Nabi is said to be a man of discipline, and surely he’ll want his players to know that one of the key components for a solid defensive unit is discipline.

The 58-year-old coach will also know that without a well-oiled engine his team will be non-functional in defence and on attack. Perhaps, that’s where Johnson got it wrong last season as his team didn’t have a structure and spine.

Midfielder Sibongiseni Mthethwa was thrown into the deep end and partnered alongside Yusuf Maart and Edson Castillo after he was signed from Stellenbosch in January. But when that combination didn’t work owing to imbalance and injuries, every member struggled – with Johnson even forced to gamble with Sithebe who was in the fringes at a later stage.

Sithebe, who finished the season on a high, has since left the club. So, the job is cut out for Nabi to ensure that he builds a new functional engine room. And should that engine room work, it will then be easy to transport power to Chiefs’ attack given their diabolical state last season.

Chiefs’ striking unit was so poor last season that it went on a four-game scoreless run before the last five games – a feat that could have led to their failure to finish in the top-eight.

Again, the blunt attack was Johnson’s fault given that he decided against signing in the summer, albeit realising that winter signings Ranga Chivaviro and Jasond Gonzalez struggled in the first half of the season.

However, Nabi can’t risk things and rely only on Chivaviro, Ashley du Preez or Christian Saile to produce next season. In fact, his main priority should be to find a lethal striker.

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