Potential change in Chiefs’ culture may be long overdue

Nasreddine Nabi will have to reinvent the Kaizer Chiefs culture if he is appointed as coach of the club. | BackpagePix

Nasreddine Nabi will have to reinvent the Kaizer Chiefs culture if he is appointed as coach of the club. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 26, 2024


The sleeping giant of South African football, Kaizer Chiefs, is seemingly on the verge of being awakened by a bunch of north African geniuses.

Tensions at the club’s Naturena base are at an all-time high at the moment with the players having returned for pre-season this week and with a couple of contracts set to be terminated at the start of the new month.

While the club is yet to make an official announcement, it has been reliably reported that Tunisian tactician Nasreddine Nabi will come to South Africa to assume the role of head coach at the start of next month, and some of his backroom staff have already arrived.

After the arrivals of assistant coach Fernando da Cruz and goalkeeper coach Ilyes Mzoughi on Sunday, former Raja Athletic Club and Wydad Athletic Club fitness coach Majdi Safi is expected to arrive next. The formation of such a technical team is new for Amakhosi.

The club is nearing a decade-long trophy drought and has appointed some of the most recognised local brains to try to solve its problems.

In a familiar refrain, Chiefs have said that they were looking for a candidate that understands the club’s culture, which has seen them appoint former players, coaches and staff members.

The likes of Steve Komphela, Stuart Baxter, Arthur Zwane and Ernst Middendorp have all had their shot at solving Chiefs’ problems in this drought, and have all failed.

Nabi and his technical team’s arrival does not only see a north African coach take charge of the institution for the first time in the Premier Soccer League era but also raises questions surrounding the famous ‘Kaizer Chiefs way’ of garnering success.

The 58-year-old Nabi brings with him a change in mentality as well as a modern playing style, two aspects that Chiefs fans have been desperately calling for.

The Motaung family have, for decades, been very successful in keeping up with football trends on and off the pitch alongside attracting the best players to their institution.

However, that culture has manifested itself their worst trophy-less run in history, an odour they are seemingly eager to rid themselves of.

If one speaks of the Chiefs culture at the moment, phrases like ‘top-eight team’, ‘a lack of footballing brains’, and ‘average players with an even worse technical team’ are expressions that have reverberated around the club for years.

The arrival of Nabi may well mean a move away from the traditional way of operating at the Glamour Boys and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Some of the best clubs in the world have suffered for years before allowing for the revolution of their structures and staff.

The names of Jurgen Klopp and English side Liverpool spring to mind as far as revolutions go, while Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides of the late 1990s and early 2000s are also prime examples.

Klopp’s demands prior to moving to the Reds were to bring on his own backroom staff, just like Nabi has as well. This decision ensures the head coach takes full control of the club’s direction from top to bottom.

The truth is Chiefs need a fearless and experienced leader who isn’t afraid to move things and people around at the club to have any chance of challenging Mamelodi Sundowns, and if that means a loss of their core beliefs, then so be it.