Chiefs plan to rule

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

After being reduced to a some-what ordinary team in the Premiership last season, Kaizer Chiefs plan to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2010 with trophies to show off.

Chiefs have brought in Serbian coach Vladimir Vermezovic to lead the process of resuscitating the once unstoppable Amakhosi.

Winning the inaugural MTN8 at the expense of Mamelodi Sundowns on penalties in Durban last August is the only trophy won by Chiefs this season.

For a team of Chiefs' calibre, winning one title is not good enough but chairperson Kaizer Motaung is still satisfied, though he believes they could have still done better.

"The turning point for us for the league title was when we lost the Soweto derby [against Orlando Pirates]. We gave away an opportunity to claim the top spot," said Motaung.

"Finishing third with five points adrift of the league champions is not an outright failure, but we should have gone all the way to win the championship."

Motaung blamed their indifferent results due to lack of a proper home ground, a move which saw them playing some of their games in Mmabatho, Durban and Rustenburg.

"We continuously had to adjust our logistical plans around travel and training, suffered the indignities of facing some teams with fatigued or occasionally agitated minds.

"We also endured the departure of some key players under unsavoury circumstances," said Motaung, clearly referring to Mabhuti Khenyeza and Gert Schalkwyk.

It goes without saying that the departure of the deadly Khenyeza and creative Schalkwyk had a negative effect on Chiefs' not so impressive display.

Khenyeza continued scoring vital goals at Ajax Cape Town, with Schalkwyk helping Bloemfontein Celtic avoid the big drop to the national First Division.

"The loss of Mabhuti and Gert was evidence of our technical glitches that caused us harm. Their departure is regrettable and a challenge to resolve in the near future.

"I believe, however, that we have learnt some valuable lessons to sharpen our hunger for glory in the new season."

On their plans for the 2009/2010 season, Motaung said: "Our management machinery is hard at work to take the team up where it belongs.

"In doing so, we are cognisant of the 39 years of our existence and in preparing for our 40th anniversary we have considered a strategic and carefully planned process to transform our team, our management systems and our supporters' structures."

Regarding the arrival of Vermezovic, Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung said coaches brought to South Africa by his club never disappointed.

"I can start with the very same Muhsin [Ertugral] who has just joined Ajax, Ted Dumitru, Phillipe Troussier, Jeff Butler, Paul Dolezar ... the list is endless.

"All those coaches were introduced to South African soccer by Chiefs and have done very well, both for us and elsewhere. "

Freddy Maake, a popular Chiefs supporter, said: "The most heart-breaking part about the past season for us was losing three games to Pirates.

"We hope the new coach will end that suffering and take us to greater heights. Some of us are used to being called champions wherever we travel."

We also caught up with one of Chiefs legends, Jan "Malombo" Lechaba, who said: "The name Kaizer Chiefs has always been synonymous with success in South African soccer," he said. "But with the type of players that Chiefs had last season, I think it was not bad that they finished third on the log.