Derby Defeat an Ominous Sign of What’s To Come for Kaizer Chiefs
Pre-season games hardly tell a full story of how a club is going to fare once the season is in full swing. A team can have a cracking pre-season and still falter when it matters most. A perfect example could be Kaizer Chiefs’ win against Manchester United in 2006, under the guidance of current coach, Ernst Middendorp. This was a high profile pre-season win, but the team somehow contrived to secure an unwanted record of finishing 9th on the final log standings by season’s end.
As if to highlight the folly of pre-season Soweto derby games, the weekend’s defeat at the hands of rivals Orlando Pirates should not be taken too seriously. However, the club is currently beset by special circumstances. Firstly, the coach who helped the team suffer a 9th place finish back in 2007 is enjoying his second stint at the club and looks set to remain as coach even after helping the team to another embarrassing 9th place spot last season.
Although he apparently commands respect as a coach in the footballing world, Middendorp is frankly not a serial winner.
Even a closer look at the trophies won in his first spell at Chiefs will show that one win (ABSA Cup) was from a highly unconvincing penalty shootout win, while the other (SAA Supa8) ensured the team flattered to deceive as all their impressive early season showings came undone to finish outside the top 8.
The German coach returned to his native country only to start a series of hiring and firings that also took him to China and Cyprus, before returning to South Africa to establish himself as a sort of relegation saviour. It remains mind-boggling then why the Kaizer Chiefs management retains faith in a coach of such a diminished calibre.
It is said that after leading the club to yet another embarrassing record last season – a loss to first division side TS Galaxy in the Nedbank Cup – the Kaizer Chiefs faithful convened after that game, reportedly to plan a boycott of the club. After Saturday’s howler against their clearly superior arch-rivals, one can only wonder where the hearts and minds of the Amakhosi faithful are.
While a boycott would be devastating for the club, as the Kaizer Chiefs brand is nothing without the fans supporting it, one could be convinced that those inside the club would relish such a devastating prospect.
The fans will be pleased at the clubs transfer activity during pre-season, but it is far from a given that the new signings will deliver Chiefs out of their misery. The fans will remember that even historically, the players that the current coach has brought to the club hardly ever impressed – Louis Agyemang anyone?
Sure, the club looks better in quality than it did in the last season, but, at the risk of pre-empting, there is a real chance that the players will only begin showing their true quality once the inevitable happens – when the club finally fires the inept German mentor for less than good results.