Chiefs trip to Madagascar a reminder of the time they were banned by CAF

Kaizer Chiefs players during a training session at Naturena in Johannesburg.
Kaizer Chiefs players during a training session at Naturena in Johannesburg.
Image: KAIZER CHIEFS

Kaizer Chiefs’ weekend trip to Madagascar is the second time they are heading to the giant island but it should have been three had it not been for political violence and missed plane flights from Johannesburg.

In 2002‚ when Chiefs were beginning the defence of the African Cup Winners’ Cup crown they had won just months before‚ they refused to travel to Madagascar because of concerns over the safety of their players at a time when the country was racked by political violence.

The Naturena side ended up being banned from African club competition.

Chiefs had won the first leg of the first round tie against USM Transfoot 4-0 at home but then did not travel to Madagascar for the return match‚ earning disqualification and then a two-year ban from the Confederation of African Football.

Chiefs blamed their inability to get a flight to take their team to Madagascar for the failure to honour the fixture.

But they also did not want to go there because of the rioting that followed disputed presidential elections.

The tenuous political situation meant a number of flights to the island were cancelled as airlines worried about dwindling jet fuel supplies and the possibility of being stranded in Madagascar.

Chiefs blamed the South African Football Association for not trying hard enough to petition CAF for a postponement of their match or a move to a neutral venue.

Kaizer Motaung said at the time that if SAFA’s then general secretary Albert Mokoena “had been doing his job” Chiefs would have not been banned.

But Chiefs were secretly rather pleased to be rid of participation because they did not fancy all the costs that came with the trophy they won.

The previous year‚ when they had won the Cup Winners’ Cup‚ they racketed up a massive travel bill playing across the continent and got nothing in return – it was only in 2004 that prize money started to be offered by CAF to participating teams.

Chiefs eventually went to Madagascar in 2005 when the ban was lifted and they played in the African Champions League.

They beat USJF Ravinala 1-0 away and went on to win their second round tie 5-1 on aggregate before controversially losing in the next round to Esperance of Tunisia.

Chiefs are the only South African club who have been banned by CAF and it has happened twice.

Straight after the defeat to Esperance‚ which included some diabolic refereeing decisions which later led to suspension of the Egyptian official in charge‚ Chiefs were supposed to drop down to play in the African Confederation Cup but after the bitter taste of the cheating in Tunisia refused to take part.

So they received another ban - this time for three years which meant that their league triumph in the 2004/05 season did not lead to another campaign in the Champions League.

Chiefs only returned to African club competition in 2014 after almost a decade out.

Chiefs are leaving by charter plane on Friday for Antananarivo where they will defend a 3-0 lead in the second leg of their second round tie against Elgeco Plus.

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