Today’s club under the microscope is Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs.
Two seasons without silverware meant the pressure was well and truly on for Kaizer Chiefs at the start of the 2017/18 campaign. The likes of Dumisani Zuma, Bongolethu Jayiya, Philani Zulu and Teenage Hadebe were all brought in to help stop Amakhosi’s barren run, yet the season didn’t start as hoped with a 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic followed by a 2-1 loss to SuperSport United.
The Glamour Boys would only win three of their first 13 games, before finally registering back-to-back wins against Platinum Stars and Ajax Cape Town in December as they ended 2017 in second place, and still in contention for the title.
Yet despite the January arrival of Mamelodi Sundowns striker Leonardo Castro and Black Leopards playmaker Siphelele Ntshangase, things did not go according to script for the Soweto club, who despite losing just three of their last 17 games, failed to live up to expectations while misfiring in front of goal as they watched their rivals streak ahead to finish the season in third, 12 points behind winners Mamelodi Sundowns and seven behind crosstown rivals Orlando Pirates.
Chiefs’ MTN8 campaign lasted just one game as they were knocked out by SuperSport United in the first round, while their Telkom Knockout challenge would end in the semi-finals: having overcome AmaZulu and Chippa United, they bowed out to eventual champions Bidvest Wits 1-0 in the last-four.
It wouldn’t get better than that in the Nedbank Cup either, where victories over Golden Arrows, Stellenbosch FC and Baroka meant a semi-final date with Free State Stars in Durban, where two first-half goals by Harris Tchilimbou sent Chiefs packing, much to the displeasure of the Amakhosi faithful who invaded the pitch in anger, leading to the resignation of head coach Steve Komphela. Assistant Patrick Mabedi then led the side for the last three league games of the season.
Despite boasting the league’s best defensive record, conceding just 22 goals across the campaign, it was at the other end of the pitch from which Chiefs’ major headache stemmed, especially in front of their own fans. The Glamour Boys netted just 11 goals at home this season, the second-worst tally of all 16 teams in the league, with a shooting accuracy of just 25.4% across all 15 home fixtures.
Away from home, though, they had the second-best conversion rate (10.4%) and the second-best shot accuracy percentage (38.3%).
Interestingly, Chiefs committed the least amount of fouls of any team in the PSL, averaging just 11.2 fouls per game.
Areas of improvement
It’s quite clear to see that a quality goal-getter is what Chiefs need in order to improve, with their top scorer across all competitions this season being veteran Bernard Parker with just six strikes to his name. Another area to look into ahead of the next season is the mental aspect: so much has been said of their three-year barren streak, and with the pressure on the club to live up to fans’ expectations, the new coach will no doubt have to motivate the squad both on and off the pitch in helping the club reach its former glory.