This was despite coach Ernst Middendorp taking every opportunity he got to sway attention away from his new men who have a lot to prove to the millions of Amakhosi faithful.
“No, it is not about the new players,” Middendorp would say. And he is right. The new players cannot do it on their own. It needs to be a collective effort if the team are to curb the shameful decline that they have been on for the last four years.
But naturally, it was difficult to do as Middendorp wanted and we all wanted to see what Samir Nurkovic brings that Gustavo Paez didn’t have. We wanted to see what prompted a big team like Chiefs to bring on Reeve Frosler who, as Middendorp himself admitted, had been parked at Bidvest Wits’ training grounds in Milpark for quite a while.
We wanted to see what Lazarous Kambole can do better that Gabadinho Mhango (who Amakhosi apparently declined when he was offered to them) and Mwape Musonda (who Amakhosi fans wanted so badly in their team).
We wanted to see what Kyrean Baccus can do better than Pule Ekstein who was released after the team could not give him what he felt he was worth in wages. Is James Kotei really better than George Maluleka, Willard Katsande and Sphelele Ntshangase?
That is what we needed to see. And to be fair, three of the four new guys who were given their debuts on Sunday did fairly well. Nurkovic proved to be a hustler and a clever partner in the mould of Khama Billiat could benefit from his intelligent runs.
Frosler gave a fresh flair on the right and did his defensive and attacking duties diligently. Kambole did well as well but needs to calm down and stop trying too much to prove himself. He was overeager and ended up being everywhere an sometimes clashing with his own teammates instead of opening spaces for them.
Baccus had a game he would rather forget. This after he was hyped up by the club’s spokesman Vina Maphosa who likened him to the great Thabo “Tsiki-Tsiki” Mookie. Apart from the cross from which Lebohang Manyama scored his first of two goals on the day, he just “died out”.