After an abysmal 2017/18 season under Steve Komphela, which extended the clubs three year trophy drought, Kaizer Chiefs and new coach Giovanni Solinas will need to hit the ground running in the upcoming campaign if they are to regain past glories, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates are the two favourites to challenge for the Absa Premiership title and with good reason.
Sundowns have not finished outside the top two since Pitso Mosimane’s arrival in 2010 and despite losing star duo Khama Billiat and Percy Tau, Downs still look in prime position to retain their title after strengthening in the off-season.
Kaizer Chiefs have a chance to get ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns in the first game of the season after finishing behind Masandawana in each of the last three #AbsaPrem seasons. pic.twitter.com/uzzRPQzf9p
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 1, 2018
Pirates on the other hand, are a side transformed since Milutin Sredojevic joined the club at the start of last season. Coach Micho lead the Buccaneers to second place and after signing some quality players in the transfer window, many believe Pirates can go one better and lift the Absa Premiership come the end of the season.
So where does this leave the Glamour Boys?
Chiefs managed one of the signings of the window with the capture of Billiat from Downs. The transfer grabbed the headlines, but it came at a time when the club were struggling in their search of a new coach with Bobby Motaung, the clubs football manager, admitting to such during the process.
Finally, midway through July, Chiefs announced that former Free State Stars coach Solinas would take over the reins at Naturena, leaving the Italian only a few weeks to stamp his identity on the side.
Solinas got to work on the training ground, but pre-season losses to first Sundowns in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup and then Cape Town City FC in the Mpumulanga Experience Cup have got many fans asking if Chiefs will have enough to end their trophy drought this season.
The Amakhosi have also been handed a tough start to the season, facing Sundowns in a blockbuster opening day clash in Pretoria. They follow that up with a home clash against Bidvest Wits, then away games at Baroka, Cape Town City FC and Maritzburg United in their opening six fixtures.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) July 27, 2018
After last season’s fan trouble, many of the Amakhosi faithful will be waiting eagerly to see if the changes made at the club will bring around a change of fortunes.
With the atmosphere amongst the Chiefs fans still tense, a poor start for Solinas and his team may just bring back the very same pressures felt in the Komphela era.
A fast start, however, will see the Amakhosi supporters regain their faith in the side, getting behind them and perhaps even help push them to success.
It all starts with Sundowns on Saturday. If Solinas and his chargers can come away from Loftus with three points and carry that confidence into their tough opening run, the Chiefs fans will surely start to believe again.
On the other hand if Masandawana romp home to an emphatic win and then Chiefs again struggle in their other opening encounters, the wounds from last season may just rip open again.
What is clear is that if Solinas is going to be successful at Naturena, it is imperative that Chiefs get off to a good start.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix