Kaizer Chiefs fans are FURIOUS! In fact during the post match interviews at the game against Platinum Stars last week Tuesday, one could hear chants of “Steve Must Go” from the fans in the background.
One can hardly blame them if you consider that Kaizer Chiefs went into that clash looking for only their second victory in their last 15 matches in all competitions stretching back to last season. If you go back to the last 12 games in the PSL and Champions League combined; the Glamour boys have only managed to score 0.75 goals per game while conceding 1.08 in the process. Those numbers alone are a recipe for disaster.
So why are Kaizer Chiefs doing so badly?
Yes, I know. The knee jerk reaction is to put it all on Steve Komphela. But is it really his fault? Let’s look back at the composition of successful teams in this league in recent history, shall we?
Well, the Orlando Pirates that won three trophies two seasons in a row was built around Moeneeb Josephs, Lucky Lekgwathi, Rooi Mahamutsa, Ruben Cloete, Siyabonga Sangweni and Bennie McCarthy. That was the spine of the team, all of them aged 30 and over.
When Kaizer Chiefs that won the league under Steward Baxter, the first and second time, the spine of the team was built around players like Tefu Mashamite, Morgan Gould, Yeye Letsholonyane, even Siphiwe Tshabalala tucking in for much of both seasons. All of them aged over 30.
When Pitso Mosimane won the title with Mamelodi Sundowns the first time, he had Alje Schut, Surprise Moriri, and his attack was lead by the likes of Katlego Mashego, and Teko Modise, and that was his spine. Sure last season’s squad was a lot younger, but Teko Modise and Cuthbert Malajila, Katleho Mashego and Athony Laffour made profitable cameo appearances throughout the season (with at least 1 goal in the last 15 min at home for much of the season) while Thabo Nthete came of age as well; all of them in the spine and all of them aged 30 and over.
Incidentally Bidvest Wits, which has all of a sudden become a title contender under Gavin Hunt last season, has Moeneeb Josephs, Nazeer Allie and Henrico Botes leading the attack. You will remember that Henrico Botes replaced Matome Kadi, Benjamin Mwaruwari and Chris Katongo from the three seasons before. And having left for Platinum Stars in the last transfer window, Botes is now replaced by a 31 year old Eleazar Rodgers. That was the spine, all of them aged 30 and over.
What about Platinum Stars another league contender, who do they have? Last season, they had Eleazar Rodgers whom they swapped for Botes, Robert Ng’ambi, Solomon Mathe, Mbongeni Mzimela, Gift Sithole and Sibiniso Gumede that is their spine, aged 30 and over.
So what does Kaizer Chiefs spine look like?
Willard Katsande, Bernard Parker are the only players in the spine who are 30, and play in the spine. The rest of them are in the mid to late -20’s. In fact, in defense the only person over 30 is Masilela and he is on the left. While the 32 year old Siphiwe Tshabalala gets tucked in the middle as a means to compensate for experience. And let’s be honest, he has done an amazing job to reinvest himself for that role. But with respect, his right foot is as good as a crutch, and the extra touch to bring the back to his comfortable left makes his passing game fractionally late for the attacking pack’s diagonal runs.
In the game against Platinum Stars was a classical example of a deficiency in experience. Pule Ekstein was at pains to make them play, and I am glad he got the goal. He played his heart out. But Platinum Stars knowingly took away the space in front of William Twala and George Lebese, because they can get devastating once they get into their stride. But the lack of experience in the spine’s midfield areas failed to recognize the need to draw Luvo Mpetha and Vuyo Mere away from Twala and Lebese so as to create the space to work the wide areas of the pitch.
Can we attribute any of that to Steve Komphela? Fact is, NO!
The club cannot go through transfer window after transfer window applying policies and processes that diminish the coach’s decision-making influence, while systematically building teams that are ill-equipped to deal with the technical challenges thrown at the them every weekend; and then expect the coach to produce miracles. I mean their central defensive areas get sliced open like Thanksgiving Turkey, simply because there is no one mature enough to keep things calm in the face of an onslaught.
Granted there’s four or so player who play central positions that will be coming of age within the next 18 months. It may very well mean the squad will be stronger then. Perhaps that’s what they mean when they say, they are building. But even then, it seems a little counterproductive to offer the same players one year contracts just because they are 30 years old; and then watch them walk away on free transfers just because someone else saw their worth and offered them a two year contract.
Side Note: while people accuse Stewart Baxter of rebuilding Kaizer Chiefs at SuperSport United, he is not. He is just building a spine; and if you can do it for free, then why not?
To be honest, this team is not set up to challenge for anything. And while it is true what they say, that too many cooks spoil the broth. It seems a little unfair to attribute the state of the team’s performance on a cook who is denied the utensils.
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale