Jonty Mark
Football Editor
3 minute read
3 May 2022
12:12 pm

OPINION: This time Kaizer Chiefs’ gamble looks to have backfired

Jonty Mark

It hasn't got any better for Amakhosi since Stuart Baxter was sacked.

Arthur Zwane (right) and Dillon Sheppard (centre), haven't had it so easy this time around. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix.

Firing a coach not long before the end of the season is always a risky option.

ALSO READ: Kaizer Chiefs suspend Zuma again!

It worked, somewhat, for Kaizer Chiefs at the end of the 2020/21 season, as they showed the door to Gavin Hunt and the duo of Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard managed to get Amakhosi into this season’s MTN8 and into the final of the Caf Champions League.

But Chiefs, Zwane and Sheppard are quickly finding out that this sort of instability at a football club also had a tendency to backfire.

Stuart Baxter was given his marching orders after a 1-0 loss at home to SuperSport United, with many Chiefs fans expressing their disgust inside and outside FNB Stadium, and with loud calls too for Zwane (in particular) to be given another chance.

Zwane has preached a good game, about bringing the flair back to Chiefs, but on the field, Amakhosi have delivered mostly fear, playing with caution, and producing error-strewn displays that have led to three straight defeats under the heroes of last season.

This weekend’s 2-1 loss at Cape Town City was a case in point. An error from Daniel Cardoso gifted City their opener, though the high-pressing from the home side was also excellent.

And exactly what Chiefs defenders were doing as Terrence Mashego sprinted into their box in the second half is unclear, but it seemed like they were admiring the view as the Bafana Bafana left-sided player fooled Brandon Petersen and beat the Chiefs keeper at his near post.

Blunders continue to cost Chiefs dearly, while Dumisani Zuma’s consolation was Chiefs’ first goal this year at FNB Stadium, a ridiculous statistic, particularly from a side blessed with the
attacking talent at Amakhosi’s disposal.

If Baxter was indeed the problem, it hasn’t shown, and Chiefs’ chances of at least salvaging something from the season, by finishing second or third in the table, and securing a place in next season’s Caf competitions, are dwindling by the week.

It doesn’t get any easier for Amakhosi either, as they take on a Marumo Gallants on Tuesday, with Dan Malesela’s side buoyed by reaching the Nedbank Cup final, and follow that with a game against Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday.

While Sundowns have wrapped up the league title, and have a Nedbank Cup final to prepare for, they will surely want to prove again the widening gap between themselves and the rest, especially a rival like Chiefs.

It will be interesting to see if Zwane and Sheppard are backed by Chiefs’ management next season.
They have forked out plenty of cash in hiring Hunt and Baxter, not forgetting Ernst Middendorp before them, and probably plenty in firing them too. There does seem to be an impatience at Chiefs that wasn’t there before – just look at how long Muhsin Ertugral lasted in his first spell at Chiefs.

The likelihood is that Chiefs will go for another man from outside the current camp. But if they do, they surely need to show far more faith in that man than they have shown of late in anyone.