Chiefs - the fallen idols of SA soccer

2016-04-20 11:44
Kaizer Chiefs (File)

"There is no more unhappy being," proclaimed essayist, poet, playright and politician Joseph Addison in 1712, "than a fallen idol."

Now a matter of 304 years later it is an assessment that still carries a good deal of weight.

If you have some doubts, ask any Kaizer Chiefs player, official or supporters after Amakhosi experienced an eighth successive game without a victory at the cavernous FNB Soccer World Cup stadium on Saturday night following the goalless Premier League draw against Ajax Cape Town.

The Amakhosi camp is in distress. And little wonder. The PSL glamour club, who have made a habit of winning titles in South African soccer right from its very inception 44 years ago, have  scored a mere four goals and conceded 10 in their winless streak of eight PSL and CAF matches and are set to finish the season empty-handed of all major honours.

On Saturday night there were barely more than 1 500 paying spectators at FNB Stadium. It was an inexcusable and unthinkable demonstration of disloyalty prevalent in South African soccer that could never happen overseas to revered clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea even in their darkest hours.

But whether it is the club letting down their supporters or the supporters letting down the club - or both - it does tend to dramatically prove a point.

So what is the reason for the breakneck fall from grace of the dethroned Premier League champions, who at this early juncture have already surrendered their title while placed a massive 17 points behind current log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns?

It is something not easy to explain - particularly as the team continues to play an attractive, entertaining and skilful brand of soccer while having so little to show for it.

Many are placing the blame at the door of coach Steve Komphela, who took over the reins from Stuart Baxter at the start of the season amid much enthusiasm and high expectations - taking into account his credentials as a former player of note with Chiefs, Bafana Bafana and other teams and the acceptance widely of being a shrewd, knowledgeable and diplomatic coach of note.

Komphela's earned reputation is deserved and it is hard to imagine it is this former educator and school principal who is the cause for bringing Chiefs to their knees - even though it is almost a tradition in soccer to make the coach culpable for the failure of one and all teams who experience a significant decline.

Notwithstanding this, it has to be accepted that when a new coach at any level takes over a team that has tasted a substantial slice of success before his arrival, it constitutes a scenario whereby his task is often more difficult and open to critical comparison.

So, if not Komphela, who then are the culprits? Not chairperson and joint-club founder Kaizer Motaung and his sophisticated administration surely - or players who remain talented despite their recent mediocre results.

But as with all idols, the tendency to become complacent and take success for granted is a creeping affliction if undetected can cause a decline followed by diminishing confidence - and once the trend sets in, it is difficult to turn the clock back.

The lesson therefore is that the Chiefs' players are only human despite being hoisted on a pedestal by their idolising and passionate supporters and like everyone else are vulnerable to suffer decline and failure - sometimes at the drop of a hat.

Can Amakhosi emerge from their slump? Of course they can. But to what extent - and how soon - depends on character, hard work and toughness to overcome the utter unhappiness of becoming fallen idols.

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  soccer

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