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Soccer

Chiefs nowadays are a shadow of their former selves

24 September 2017 - 00:00 By SAZI HADEBE and MARC STRYDOM

This is Kaizer Chiefs in name. But is this current incarnation really Kaizer Chiefs, who captured imaginations so greatly at their birth in 1970 that they became one of the country's top teams?
They have won a few matches recently. But is there not a betrayal of the legacy of Ace Ntsoelengoe, Teenage Dladla, Computer Lamola, Ryder Mofokeng, Mark Tovey, Kaizer Motaung and the many greats who have donned the black and gold?
Watching Amakhosi labour to a 1-1 draw with Bidvest Wits - champions, but down to 10 men and out of form - at FNB Stadium last weekend was painful."Can you blame Chiefs? You can't - because maybe they don't have the same buying power."
But it was notable in the transfer window that clubs around Chiefs made big signings. Amr Gamal and Steven Pienaar at Wits, Ayanda Patosi at Cape Town City, Azubuike Egwuekwe at SuperSport United and even Maritzburg United with Richard Ofori and Yazid Atouba.
Maritzburg prospect Lebohang Maboe is an emerging player in the Chiefs mould signed a year ago from Mbombela United. Is something wrong with Amakhosi's scouting network that they cannot find such players?
Chiefs were beaten to off-season target Siphelele Ntshangase by Baroka FC for a paltry R3-million.
"I agree, but if you listen to the football manager [Bobby Motaung], Chiefs have said they will not break the bank," Khan said.
"And if Chiefs are not going to spend on that quality, their next option is to develop it.
"Which brings one to Chiefs' academy, recently revamped at a cost of millions. Brilliant. World-class," Khan said.
So why are the products not making much impact. Meyiwa is a fine prospect, but Emmanuel Letlotlo and Pule Ekstein have looked out of their depth. Will it take time for the revamped system to produce?"The team borders on average, but those three players carry them. And that's frightening," Khan said.
"I think everybody at Chiefs is realistic enough to know this team is not good enough to win the league."
But are Chiefs realistic?
That Amakhosi might struggle this season seemed on the cards when Kaizer and Bobby Motaung made noises at the end of last campaign that the squad did not need major additions.
The popular theory has been that Kaizer, now 72, has increasingly passed responsibility to his son Bobby, to Chiefs' detriment.
"If you ask me, Kaizer is still hands on," Khan said. "He was a coach of the team, he loves the team. He's the earliest at work and last to leave.
"But also Kaizer respects employees, and when he gives you a job he won't interfere. I would say it's the same with Bobby. Kaizer will support Bobby. At the same time, Steve's character is such that he will have a say in signings. So you can't blame just the manager. It's a collective."
South Africa loves Chiefs. Their meteoric rise is a remarkable story. But this, unfortunately, is just not Kaizer Chiefs.
hadebes@blackstar.co.za and strydomm@timeslive.co.za..

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