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NKARENG MATSHE | It’s not too late for Amakhosi bosses to catch a wake up

Nkareng Matshe Sports editor
Kaizer Chiefs interim coach Cavin Johnson.
Kaizer Chiefs interim coach Cavin Johnson.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Perhaps Kaizer Chiefs’ shock elimination from the Nedbank Cup last week will jolt their management into stern action regarding the club’s head coaching post, which has become such a sore point of late.

Let’s face it: Had Chiefs somehow managed their way into the next round of the competition and snatched the cup in the end, there probably would not have been a need to effect changes to their current interim structure.

Cavin Johnson, who has been publicly auditioning to get the job on a full-time basis, would possibly have been installed permanently into the role, for winning the Nedbank Cup would have confirmed something was being done to right the wrong of the previous ill-advised appointments.

Johnson would be an instant hero as the man who ended Amakhosi’s long trophy drought, which will now –  from August – stretch into the 10th season.

A cup triumph – achieved meritoriously or via a fluke – would have meant Chiefs are back, making their supporters forget momentarily about the heartache of the past few seasons.

But it wasn’t to be. Little-known Milford from the National First Division entered FNB Stadium last Sunday and emerged with a famous victory, which condemned Chiefs to another trophy-less season. The disappointment among the Amakhosi faithful has now become depressingly familiar.

They see no improvement brought about by Johnson’s regime – just regular excuses heard during the reigns of Arthur Zwane and Molefi Ntseki. Crucially, they see no direction, no pattern, no indication that Amakhosi can get any closer to conquering SA football again.

Such has been Amakhosi’s sorry decline that even teams enduring a terrible run, such as their next two opponents Moroka Swallows and Golden Arrows, see a fixture against them as a chance to regain lost form. It is a sorry sight for a club of Chiefs’ stature.

As we have said here before, it is not too late, however, for the Naturena hierarchy to catch a wake up and put a solid strategy in place to get the club where it belongs.

Any overhaul must start with a proper head coach, employed not haphazardly – but after a meticulous hiring process that should align with the club’s long-term vision. Plucking Ntseki from the development structures in the winter proved a disastrous decision, and imposing Johnson as interim head coach from the same structures has not proven a success either. Keeping him in the position for this long, without communicating the way forward, is even more damaging to the Chiefs brand.

Chiefs management should be telling their fans how long Johnson will stay on as interim head coach. Is he there until the end of the season? It’s been four months since he replaced Ntseki, and even he must be feeling like a permanent coach despite an unimpressive record of just four wins, three draws, two defeats and a shocking penalty shootout cup exit suffered at the hands of a lower-division side coached by a gynaecologist.

The road ahead will be bumpier if Chiefs management opts to retreat into a shell – like they did this week – instead of coming out to offer plausible solutions to a crisis that has surely deepened.

Come to think of it, the last time Chiefs had a proper coach was during Ernst Middendorp’s ill-fated tenure,  which ended in a final-day championship heartbreak. But at least, supporters will say they were happier for most of that season, even though it concluded without a trophy. Four years on, the club’s management is not any closer to finding a solution to return the club to its glory days.


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