Friday, May 17, 2013

Hail to the Kings, the Kaizer Chiefs

With a single fixture of the ABSA Premiership to go, the title has been taken. Kaizer Chiefs won their first title in 8 years after that famous draw with draw specialists in Supersport United. With that, it may be worthwhile to declare Black Leopards relegated. Chippa United and Ajax of Cape Town will decide amongst themselves who goes for play-offs by playing for their lives.

There is a couple of things of concern here. A team of the magnitude of Amakhosi can never be allowed to go without a title for so long. While congratulating them and appreciating the efforts of Kaizer Mutoung and his family for this feat, it underlines what has been gross under-achievement by their very high standards. 

Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and to a lesser extent, Moroka Swallows and Supersport United should never go for so long without a title. Rotating the title among the Soweto rivals should be the norm. This is due to their following and financial muscle. Sundowns provide the financial stability that all teams envy. 

As for Supersport, their is the stability in other resources that are not necessarily financial They have all the equipment and facilities anyone can dream of. They have access to archives and material including continental football records that can be accessed by their technical stuff. This should see them do better in the African safari, but like Chiefs in the local scene, they misfire constantly.

Let us not take away the shine away from the Naturena Boys. They were a solid unit of note for the first time in years. This is mainly based on their recruitment of the correct material for their campaign. One cannot really say the right material, but the best local talent money could buy. Their line-up is basically the national squad by any measure.

In Itumeleng Khune, save for the poor penalty saving record, they have probably the best goalkeeper in Southern Africa, maybe Africa. His distribution of the ball is the best I have ever seen in my life. The timing and accuracy sends chills down the spine of the observer. 

Formerly based overseas and playing in the UEFA Champions League, Tshepo Masilela covered the wing back position the way he did in La Liga and Israeli league. His Bafana colleague in Sibusiso Gaxa has much of that overseas experience and their defensive roles were as important as their defending; fast-flowing and ruthless.

Morgan Gould is another national team defender of note, aggressive and intelligent. In Mashamaite, he had a solid partner who can play anyway in the world. The solid holding role of Katsande and the offensive prongs of Reneiloe Letsholonyane and Simphiwe Shabalala ensured a complementing structure that was both unbreakable and unstoppable.

The reasonable width came from the wing backs but Bernard Parker drifted well in supporting Lehlohonolo Majoro. Majoro was signed a season earlier after a good run in KZN but people were beginning to doubt his goal-scoring prowess until this season. He became a beacon in national team colours too. With that kind of skeleton, any flesh thrown in there would bring the title home, provided the management was sober enough.

Not being a big fan of Stuart Baxter, he really did not need to be good to win this one. Any average performance from this line up over 12 months will yield something for sure. It must be mentioned that he had a big role to play standing along the touch line talking to the 4th official and sometimes the linesman. Baxter's supporting men also played a big role considering the weight of their names, e.g Doctor Khumalo worth his weight in gold (and black) for sure.

Not that these gentlemen are unqualified. Their colourful CVs are an envy to many and a close ally tells me they are shrewd too. While for sentimental reasons, many see VV, the former mentor as more tactically aware (I'm not sure of the measurement used here), he did not win much to talk about. They then want to blame his failures on his material.

Earlier on, I mentioned the credit that must be given to the whole management of Kaizer Chiefs because after spending so much money and a huge wage bill, they were likely to eat from the same plate as Sundowns. However, they conquered Mzansi by their solid performances and discipline approach with flying ego that sought massage from those also seeking massaged. How they kept this in check should be a lesson to all. They applied the principles of monkeys, that 'you scratch my balls I scratch yours'. This they did faithfully and religiously in all their matches.

Having mentioned the 'galatico' in Sundowns, everyone there wanted their balls scratched but no one had the will to scratch. As we now all know, the recipe for that is disaster. One can assume they learnt a thing or two, in which case Chiefs will find it harder to retain their title. Not only Minwana Phezulu are the threat. There is still the wounded Sea Robbers.

Orlando Pirates feel the sabotage mission of a few individuals led to the loss of their title. Their run in Africa is very much alive and kicking and they think they had the potential to do that at home. How far they go in the safari may be a problem for Chiefs. If they win the Champions League, they may be the real deal. Pirates are not necessarily solid but crafty and tactically aware by a mile in comparison. If they are going to be a threat in reclaiming their title they had domesticated for the last 2 seasons, they may have to enter the market and get rid of bad apples.

In Roger De Sa, they have a astute mentor with experience. They need a back-up for their crucial positions upfront in younger and agile goal poachers. With Chiefs' title celebration still not and vibrant, it must be remembered that if overdone, it may be their undoing and the momentum for next season may be lost, but they have monster characters in Bafana players. 

Regardless how one looks at how they came of age, it is worthy to note that their giant mentalities won it for them against weak Platinum Stars who were pretenders to the throne in the later part of the season. In time to separate boys from men, Kaizer Chiefs, Amakhosi, the Glamour Boys of Naturena proved their league involvement this season was no child's play. 

Whether or not they have the pedigree to perpetuate their dominance over a period spurning two overlapping seasons remains to be seen. Only time will tell but for now sithi 'Alala Amakhosi Alala'.