For a change, Chiefs go for quality over quantity in market
Zola Mahobe, the late former owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, had a personal favourite phrase: when Kaizer Chiefs sneezes we all catch cold.
Mahobe's statement alluded to Chiefs' dominance during a time when adjectives such as all-conquering, entertaining, kings of cups were associated with the Glamourous Boys with ease. In the last couple of seasons, Chiefs barely sneezed and hardly anybody caught hayfever.
These days they've developed an allergy, with an alarming alacrity to trophy hauling, which was previously second nature.
That's been largely thanks to market recruitment activity that brought more paucity than potency, reducing the once all-conquering powerhouse of the local game to an also-ran. January seems to have arrived with a new year's resolution from a Chiefs management that has seemed more tight-fisted than a safety vault.Quality has replaced quantity with three signings that have been greeted with general goodwill by the Chiefs faithful. They are cooing because these acquisitions appear to be real ammunition in the Amakhosi arsenal.
Siphelele Ntshangase will infuse an element of incisive enterprise that none in the Chiefs midfield have been able to engineer. An attacking midfielder with a nose for goal and an ability to adapt to different offensive functions makes this 24-year-old a noteworthy catch.
It is curious that Chiefs could not afford a R2-million fee for him while he was at second division side Black Leopards yet they have coughed up the same amount to Baroka FC just four months after he joined from Lidoda Duvha. The move has echoes of striker Kenny Niemach moving from Mamelodi Sundowns to Manning Rangers only to switch to Chiefs a few days after signing for the now-defunct Durban club.
The expectation among the black and gold congregation is for Leonardo Castro to be the panacea to the scoring problems. Another R2-million buy, Colombian Castro, 28, could combine well with fellow South American Gustavo Paez.
Fingers crossed that in Castro they are not getting a South American frontman who was red-hot at Downs but stone cold at Chiefs ala Venezuelan José Torrealba, who was a pale shadow of his former self by the time he switched Chloorkop for Naturena.A further new addition is attacking midfielder Kabelo Mahlasela. Signed from Bloemfontein Celtic, a son of Sebokeng in the Vaal, the 26-year-old is another welcome addition at Chiefs. In the 12 matches he played for Celtic in the current campaign, six starts and six subs, Mahlasela showed a creative spark imbued with a sense of serenity enveloped in efficiency.
Those who monitored Celtic's trek to the Telkom Knockout final and his contribution during his two years at Phunya Sele Sele will testify about his telling play.
The splash of cash is an admission on the part of Chiefs that they can't continue over-reliance on the long-in-the-tooth stalwarts such as Siphiwe Tshabalala, who turns 34 in September, Willard Katsande, who turns 32 next week Monday, and Bernard Parker, who celebrates his 32nd birthday in March.
Not everyone is a Siyabonga Nomvethe whose engine is still purring at 40 years.
It is an observation not lost on club supremo Kaizer Motaung. The Chiefs chairman, in his new year message on the club site noted: "...some of the older guys, who have done tremendously well for Kaizer Chiefs in recent years, are slowing down and we need replacements for them over a period of time."