'We’re a breed who need to be overseen': Ex-Chiefs star Fredericks looks into his crystal ball
Former Kaizer Chiefs star Stanton Fredericks says that if he were a betting man he would have put his money‚ if not his house‚ on his erstwhile employers winning the league before the shutdown of the Absa Premiership‚ but now he is not so sure.
Chiefs are facing a situation never seen by a league-leading team‚ with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) suspended and in limbo as the national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Amakhosi had a four-point lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns‚ but their command of the championship challenge had shown signs of faltering before the PSL initially suspended their matches on March 16.
Chiefs had seen their lead cut from seven points with home defeats against Maritzburg United and AmaZulu on either side of a win against Orlando Pirates.
Sundowns‚ with a game in hand‚ could have reduced the gap to a point if their game against Pirates at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday‚ March 17‚ had gone ahead‚ and Downs won.
Chiefs faced a tough encounter the next night against Bidvest Wits at FNB Stadium.
Fredericks takes another view of it‚ and feels those matches could have certainly also gone Amakhosi’s way‚ and then they would have had a clear path to the championship.
“My take on it is that don’t take this as a blessing in disguise [the PSL shutdown].
"Every team who have won the championship go through a slump. And I think Kaizer Chiefs’ slump was in January‚” he said.
“But then I think it looked like they were coming out of it. And there were so many important fixtures.
“The Tuesday just before the league was stopped‚ Pirates were playing Sundowns‚ and the next day Chiefs were playing Wits.
“Those two days could have painted the picture differently. If Sundowns drew‚ and Chiefs beat Wits‚ you wouldn’t be talking about a slump any more.
“If you’re in Chiefs’ shoes now‚ you need to play Sundowns‚ and Wits twice. Where am I going to get my points from?
“If you look at the bigger picture‚ Kaizer Chiefs were going to win the league. They came out of the slump and it was about how much do you want to win the league.
“The coaching ability of Ernst Middendorp – and I’ve only heard good things about his technical and tactical ability from every player I’ve spoken to who’s played under him – and Shaun Bartlett; and the administration‚ and how much they wanted it.
“And I think three or four matches further and we would have seen Chiefs being champions.
"And that’s also taking into account the strength of Sundowns.”
Fredericks said you cannot tell how Chiefs will come back from the lockdown should the season be resumed.
“It’s like you’re doing a preseason all over. My experience with the South African professional football player – and I’ve been retired for six years so I don’t think it's changed too much – understanding the mentality‚ is that it’s very difficult.
“We’re a breed who need to be overseen. ‘Did you do your 20 sit-ups‚ did you do this and that?’.
“Because we rely on our ability. And I’ve played overseas and in SA‚ so I know the mentality.”
Fredericks‚ popularly known by his nickname “Stiga”‚ played for Chiefs‚ Pirates‚ Grasshoppers in Switzerland and FC Moscow‚ among other clubs.