Cup exit amplifies need for new Chiefs coach

Chiefs players were left dejected after losing to Milford in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday. | BackpagePix

Chiefs players were left dejected after losing to Milford in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday. | BackpagePix

Published Feb 27, 2024



Kaizer Chiefs’ lack of direction has come back to haunt the club, and that’s why the top management should prioritise finding the right coach in the next few months.

Chiefs are at a new low. They missed out on their last chance to save their 2023/24 season after losing to minnows Milford in the Nedbank Cup last 32 on Sunday night.

That defeat stung for Chiefs, because not only is it one of the biggest upsets of the season and tournament, but it will continue a wretched trophyless run touching on a decade.

The 5-4 loss on penalties to the NFD side was a sucker punch for their fans, too, who must continue to endure being mocked by their arch-rivals, whose teams have made a habit of winning titles and championships.

For Chiefs’ management, the recent humiliation was a failure of their own making, because how can a club so big go so long without a renowned permanent coach at the helm?

Chiefs players were left dejected after losing to Milford in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday. | BackpagePix

Chiefs sacked former coach Molefi Ntseki in October, following a poor run of form that included missing out on the MTN8 and inaugural Carling Knockout.

Ntseki also had a fallout with the fans, who pelted him with missiles after major losses, an aberration that brought the league into disrepute, and that should have sent a direct message to Chiefs’ head honchos that they need to do some introspection post-haste.

Chiefs were linked with South Africa’s serial title winner Pitso Mosimane after Ntseki’s departure but that didn’t materialise as he returned to the Middle East. Mosimane appeared to be keen to take on “the project” having made public his availability to coach his childhood club.

Chiefs’ management turned instead to their head of scouting and youth, Cavin Johnson, as a temporary solution.

Sure, Johnson was an upgrade over Ntseki in terms of experience. The Amakhosi, however, have ruined their own succession plan by holding on to Johnson as an interim coach for more than three months.

When Ntseki was sacked, they had already missed out on two trophies and were behind in the title race, but there was still so much to play for. The Nedbank Cup and potential second-place finish were still up for grabs. Moreover, the new coach would have had a mid-season break of almost two months with the players due to the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Instead, Chiefs decided to settle for Johnson, who seems to be at the club for nothing but vibes, given that he knows that his immediate future is assured.

Johnson also decided against bolstering his team during the January transfer window, saying it’s his job to make the current crop of players better. Whether that was his decision or the club’s, remains unknown.

For a team that had a poor return in front of goal in the first half of the season, they should have beefed up their playing personal. Chiefs’ main strikers – Jason Gonzalez, Ranga Chivaviro and Ashley du Preez – have only scored six goals between them in all competitions this season.

But what’s done is done and Chiefs must now direct their focus to finding a new coach for the new season ... fast.

Johnson seems to know that they’ve flopped big time. Speaking at his media conference after the match against Milford, he revealed the club must do some soul searching.

“As the technical team and the group of players, we have to do a proper inspection on what we have to do going forward to make the season better,” he said.

“We need to analyse what we need to do to finish the season on a high, so that we can show the public as to what we are doing to change things.”

Chiefs could still finish as high up as second on the log – and qualify for the coveted CAF Champions League next season. They extend their trophy drought to nine seasons, however, and that is the clearest indication of how much the club has fallen from grace.

Nedbank Cup last 32 results: La Masia 1, Mamelodi Sundowns 6; SuperSport United 1, Cape Town City 1 (SuperSport won 3-1 on penalties aet); Highlands Park 1, Sekhukhune United 1 (Sekhukhune won 5-4 on penalties aet); University of Pretoria 1, Cape Town Spurs 0; AmaZulu 1, Royal AM 0; Golden Arrows 1, TS Galaxy 2; Stellenbosch FC 1, Pretoria Callies 1 (Stellenbosch won 4-3 on penalties aet); JDR Stars 0, Hungry Lions 1; Platinum City Rovers 0, Moroka Swallows 0 (Swallows won 3-1 on penalties aet); Ravens FC 1, Spain FC 1 (Ravens won 3-1 on penalties aet); Crystal Lake FC 0, Orlando Pirates 6; Richards Bay 3, Polokwane City 2; D’General FC 2, Madridistas FC 0; Maritzburg United 3, Paarl United 0; NC Pros FC 1, Chippa United 2; Kaizer Chiefs 0, Milford FC 0 (Milford won 5-4 on penalties aet)