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Hunt on Chiefs’ players negotiating contracts: ‘I haven’t seen anyone cutting corners’

19 March 2021 - 15:00 By Marc Strydom
Kaizer Chiefs players.
Kaizer Chiefs players.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt does not believe that the club having many players whose contracts end in June has played a role in his team’s battling form‚ but did seem to send out a not-so-veiled challenge to them that they are “in a shop window”.

Chiefs continue to flounder in 11th place as they aim to avoid a fourth defeat this season against third-placed Orlando Pirates in Sunday’s DStv Premiership Soweto derby at FNB Stadium.

As the death end of the season looms‚ and transfer ban-affected Amakhosi need to rally to avoid equalling their two worst finishes of ninth place‚ the question of many players whose contracts are up for renewal‚ or who might be cut‚ has arisen.

Hunt and Chiefs seem sure to pursue some notable signings in key positions in 2021-22‚ and also to wield the axe.

Chiefs have eight players‚ according to the football statistics website Transfermarkt‚ whose contracts conclude in June 2021. They are Bruce Bvuma‚ Erick Mathoho‚ Willard Katsande‚ Lebogang Manyama‚ Ramahlwe Mphahlele‚ Khama Billiat and Bernard Parker.

Many of those have either shown notable signs of weary legs‚ battled injuries‚ or struggled with form in 2020-21. Hunt was asked if he felt the uncertainty over so many players’ futures has affected Chiefs’ form.

“I mean‚ if you’re a professional footballer‚ I always say to players that you’re playing in the shop window — you should be training and playing every day like somebody’s watching you‚” he said.

“And if you do that the football gods will take care of you. That’s the way I work.

“Every day is a trial‚ every day we need to be better than the day before. And then things will take care of themselves.

“I certainly don’t want players cheating the game‚ because you will get caught out. That’s the way I look at it.

“So we need to just forget about that and try and play every game like it’s our last.”

Hunt was also asked if he was satisfied with his players — many of them senior performers — whose contracts are ending.

“Ja‚ look‚ I haven’t seen anybody cutting corners and that’s important‚” Hunt said.

“We’re shoulder to the wheel and everyone’s been putting it [the work] in.

“You know‚ I can’t fault them. It was a good performance on Tuesday again [in Chiefs’ 0-0 Caf Champions League draw away to Petro de Luanda] — we worked hard. And that’s all I can ask of the players.”

Chiefs have Leonardo Castro injured and Manyama suspended for Sunday’s derby. Itumeleng Khune‚ after taking leave to attend to the family tragedy of his sister’s death‚ is “going through all the [Covid-19] protocols of being at a funeral‚ then coming back‚ and that”‚ Hunt said.