Chiefs’ success in annual friendly cups such as the Carling Black Label Cup, Bokone Bophirima Maize Cup and Macufe Cup are often trolled upon by rival supporters, who label the club ‘treble champions’, despite their failure to claim competitive silverware over the last three years.
This season, however, the script has shifted for Amakhosi, who retained the Maize Cup but missed out on the inaugural Shell Helix Ultra Cup to Mamelodi Sundowns as well as the inaugural Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup to Cape Town City.
Mphahlele, being well aware of the banter amongst the fans, has since welcomed Chiefs’ shortcomings in these friendly fixtures and hopes for a different outcome on their competitive cup runs.
“Fortunately we lost them [friendly cups] this season. I just hope it works out to our favour,” he joked ahead of the start of the 2018/19 season.
“Look, we’re preparing. Pre-season is not easy because, with the new coach and philosophy, we’re trying to work on the team and improve it. It’s going to be difficult, let’s go and see if we can try and get one or two [competitive] trophies.
“But, look, I think it’s about time that as players we raise the bar a little bit and we start showing it. It’s good that we talk about wanting to win, but it’s about time we show on the pitch that we must put something there for Kaizer Chiefs. The club deserves a trophy.”
While many would anticipate gloom ahead judging from The Glamour Boys' back-to-back pre-season defeats to Sundowns and City, Mphahlele has downplayed this as he stresses the importance of new coach Giovanni Solinas finding his feet.
“We have a new coach who just came with a new philosophy, and obviously he wants to do things and play in a certain way, so it’s difficult,” he explained.
“Change is not easy, especially in the beginning, but we’re adapting and doing everything in our powers. We’re trying to also work with him to say what can and can’t be done.
“So we’re working very hard, believe me, especially off the pitch, where we have to iron out little things and try and fix the team. So, yeah, it’s going to take time. It’s a new era.
“We lost our coach [Steve Komphela] last season, now it’s another coach and we have to try and get to his level. But he’s a very aggressive coach; he wants perfection; he wants us to work hard and change the mentality.”