It proved a long and trying campaign for the Soweto giants, who paid dearly for inconsistency with semi-finals defeats in the Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup, where an infamous night of violence at the Moses Mabhida on April 21 culminated in head coach Steve Komphela stepping down from his role after three barren seasons in charge.
Patrick Mabedi’s introduction as interim coach had, at least, some positive impact for the Glamour Boys as they clinched third place in the league with victories in their final two matches, securing CAF Confederation Cup football at Naturena for the first time since 2014, but where should the team be looking to make their mark next term during what will ultimately be a rebuilding phase in the club’s history.
While third place might come as somewhat of a consolation, the 12-point gap between Chiefs and champions Mamelodi Sundowns cannot be ignored and the fact Amakhosi ended the campaign with the worst scoring record in the top-four this term (27 goals in 30 league games) goes a long way to pinpoint the team’s shortcomings in 2017/18.
That would suggest a shot at the title next season may hinge on Chiefs’ ability to make the right moves in the transfer market, with an out-and-out striker thought to be at the very top of the wish list, with joint-Golden Boot winner Percy Tau’s 11 goals proving the difference for the Brazilians in their league triumph and highlighting the need for a forward capable of cracking double digits.
The MTN8 always presents the chance for teams to get their campaign off on the right start, with silverware up for grabs in the opening third of the season, although Chiefs know all too well the opposite end of the scale as their quarter-final exit in 2017 proved ominous in what was to come for the remainder of the recently-concluded season.
Still, with three matches separating the Soweto giants and the first piece of silverware in over three seasons, you might forgive the club’s hierarchy for putting a bit more impetus on the tournament this time around.
As previously mentioned, the 2017 Telkom Knockout proved one of Chiefs’ near-misses in the season as they crashed out in the last four, going down 1-0 to eventual champions Bidvest Wits. That shows that the cup pedigree has by no means evaporated from the club and another deep run in the tournament will likely be expected by the bosses and the fans.
Another major cup and another bitter pill to swallow for Amakhosi as last season’s Ke Yona adventure ended at the semi-finals where, as with the TKO, Chiefs succumbed to the eventual champions Free State Stars, although their shock 2-0 loss to Ea Lla Koto underlined the inefficiency of the Glamour Boys and their need to rectify that situation in the off-season.
CAF Confederation Cup
It may not be the bright lights of the CAF Champion League, but if Chiefs are to rebuild from the base up, Africa’s second tier of continental club football offers the perfect platform from which to do just so. The experience gained in CAF competition cannot be bought, although the commitments that come with competing on the continent – such as the financial strain, travel fatigue and fixture congestion – are always a threat to any club’s domestic aspirations.
That leaves Amakhosi needing to find a delicate balance between domestic and continental action, and that may not include space for a deep run in the Confed Cup as it arguably poses too much of a threat to the other fronts Chiefs will be looking to invest in next term.