Mark Gleeson

Don't go betting on Chiefs

2009-07-28 14:42
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Kaizer Chiefs might have beaten world football's richest team over the last seven days but don't expect it to herald a new golden era for the club.

Indeed, as we sit on the eve of the start of a new South African league season, I would not bet on Chiefs at all.

Even after beating Manchester City to win the Vodacom Challenge, it is clear that the Amakhosi are going to struggle again this season.

They have done little to alleviate the lack of bite upfront, only adding the inconsistent Nkosinathi Nhleko to an attack that was decidedly limp last season.

Chiefs used to have the pick of the country's best players in a past era and every season seemed to bring to the fore a new gem to tantalise the crowds and keep the club top of the winning pile.

But that dominance died away a decade ago now and Chiefs have proven a veritable failure in the transfer market since. Indeed, of all their purchases over the last 10 years, only Collins Mbesuma and Tinashe Nengomasha can really be classed as proper stars in the same category as Doctor Khumalo, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Marks Maponyane, Ace Ngcobo and all the legends that preceded them.

Again this off-season, Chiefs' purchases have had a decided 'Pep Stores' feel about them. No one else has been exactly shopping at "Gucci" but at least Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates seem to be prepared to dip their hands in their pockets and pay for a better class player than they already have.

Chiefs, in a sense, are shortchanging the legion of fans that slavish follow the team.

But over the years their numbers have started to dwindle.

It used to be rare that Chiefs failed to fill a stadium, now it is rare that they do.

This new season is arguably the toughest ever, nine months squeezed in six and suggests the club with the most depth in their squad will succeed come the end of the campaign.

Injuries and suspension are going to pile up under the relentless slog of playing virtually twice a week. A glance over the Chiefs squad suggests they are going to be caught thin.

Saturday's Charity Cup is set to give us a further idea of the potential of the big three - Sundowns, Pirates and Chiefs - but the real work starts almost immediately thereafter with the MTN8 kicking off on August 4 and the league on August 8.

Chiefs will certainly be among the challengers and again likely to win a knockout trophy as has been their habit over four decades, but a league championship for the country's most popular club this coming season? No way.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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