Pre-season cup will whet appetites of Chiefs fans

Nasreddine Nabi. | BackpagePix

Nasreddine Nabi. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 8, 2024



For a gigantic vehicle manufacturer, Toyota will know all about being “innovative and exciting” given its line of work.

As a result, when it launches the inaugural pre-season cup with Kaizer Chiefs at its headquarters this morning, those words aren’t expected to be used randomly and the discerning Chiefs supporters in the room and outside won’t take them lightly either. It’s concepts that they’ll hope the club will adopt in the new tournament and coming season.

It’s been nine years since Chiefs lifted silverware, despite hiring and firing coaches.

Winds of change might blow Chiefs’ way in the 204/25 season, though, as they’ve called on the services of Nasreddine Nabi, who has enjoyed success all over the continent, in a bid to revive the once-mighty cup kings.

His technical team is made up of assistants Fernado da Cruz and Khalil Ben Youssef, goalkeeper coach Ilyes Mzoughi, strength and conditioning coach Majdi Safi and performance analyst Ayman Makroud. Having been busy with his last assignment at Moroccan outfit FAR Rabat in the past few weeks, Nabi is set to join the team this week in camp in Türkiye.

In Nabi’s absence, Da Cruz has been holding fort. The team was seen going through drills, to the delight of Amakhosi fans on social media.

Chiefs will camp in Türkiye for at least three weeks before coming back home where they’ll compete in the cup against an unnamed African giant. The date and venue are yet to be announced.

Chiefs have promised that the cup will produce a match of “African flair”, but Chiefs supporters will probably want to see signs of “innovation and excitement” more.

Amakhosi haven’t only failed to win trophies in the past nine years, but they’ve also struggled to play the exciting football that was part of the club’s identity. Even when they nearly won the league under Ernst Middendorp during the 2019/2020 season, they weren’t pleasing on the eye. Instead, they did what they had to do.

Club legend Arthur Zwane, who was sacked two seasons ago, was the last coach to advocate for Chiefs not only play to win, but to bring back their playing identity and culture.

The appointment of Cavin Johnson, to replace Molefi Ntseki, last season seemed to add to Chiefs’ turmoil as the team played without structure or cohesion.

Enter Nabi. It seems that Chiefs’ supporters will have no reason to lose sleep as the 58-year-old builds his teams on hard work, speed and fluidity.

“(He employs) quite a direct approach in terms of going forward, scoring with set pieces, (and is) really ruthless in terms of how he plays,” Fadlu Davids said of Nabi in an interview on Metro FM recently.

Davids, the newly appointed Simba SC coach, knows Nabi well, as they crossed paths in the Botola Pro League last season.

Davids served as an assistant to Josef Zinnabuer, whose unbeaten Raja Casablanca beat Nabi’s FAR by one point for the title.

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