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How the Chiefs train was derailed

The train has been derailed. It seemed unthinkable that Kaizer Chiefs would go from being double league and cup champions last season to finishing empty handed this season but that’s the reality of football.

It’s hard to believe that Chiefs squandered a massive 10-point lead that they held over Sundowns in February. What happened really? How and where did they lose it?

Bernard Parker was very instrumental last season in helping Chiefs reclaim their much-publicised glory. He carried that momentum to the current season, which saw him bag 10 goals. His ability to unlock defences as the key player in Chiefs’ so called ‘Transition Football’ was soon mastered by the opposition and Amakhosi became predictable.

Coach Stuart Baxter, however, persisted with Parker despite his dipping form and even when he was out of the game the Amakhosi boss let him play the whole game. When Chiefs began their title defence, like a house on fire, it was Parker who was the engine. When they started the downward spiral, ironically, the same player looked out of steam.

This goes to the question of depth. Did Chiefs reinforce enough during the transfer window? One important factor that contributed to the downfall of the mighty Amakhosi has been the absence of Josta Dladla. He is the player with enough experience to have carried Chiefs through.

Take a look at Sundowns. Many had written off Surprise Moriri but Pitso Mosimane gradually brought him back in the second half of the season when the team needed a grey head to help them chase. Dladla is Chiefs’ own grey head that they missed dearly.

Then there was the Lehlohonolo Majoro saga. This should have been handled much better, especially considering Majoro was banging in the goals in the closing stage that helped Chiefs seal the title last season. Yes Majoro had made it clear that he wouldn’t be signing a new deal at Naturena but that didn’t mean Chiefs had to push him out the way they did.

Think about Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski. He signed a pre-contract with rivals Bayern Munich but did BVB kick him out? No, they actually utilised him to the fullest and he helped them to second place on the Bundesliga table and also carried them to the semifinals of the Uefa Champions League.

This is a clear sign that a player can commit somewhere but still honour his contract. That’s being professional, which I am sure Majoro could have done. Surely, he also would have loved to leave with another gold medal.

When Knowledge Musona suffered an injury, goals just became hard to come by for Chiefs and new recruit Katlego Mphela was always going to struggle to find his feet after a long layoff at Sundowns. With Musona out, Majoro would have taken over the reins and led the attack while, in the process, taking the pressure off Parker’s shoulders.

Baxter also persisted with Kingston Nkatha despite the striker's continued poor finishing. The Chiefs fans expressed their disapproval on Nkatha but the technical team was having none of that as they continued to give him a start. Yes the couch coaches might not know the game too well but it was clear that Nkatha was out of his depth.

The long and short of it all is that letting Majoro go was a huge mistake, as huge as Real Madrid letting go of Claude Makhelele. One can only hope other league teams will take a lesson from Chiefs to take the country’s football forward.

Follow @clydegoal on Twitter

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