JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs will have another huge task on their hands when they kickoff their group-stage campaign in the Caf Champions League this weekend after being bundled out of the Nedbank Cup on Sunday.
This past weekend, the Glamour Boys crashed out of the first round of the Nedbank Cup after losing 2-1 to GladAfrica Championship side Richards Bay. It was a result that coach Gavin Hunt described “as the most embarrassing in his 27-year coaching career”.
In the bigger scheme of things, the defeat dented Chiefs’ chances of winning a domestic trophy this season, considering that the MTN8 has been bagged by rivals Orlando Pirates, while they are 15 points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns on the Premiership standings.
Chiefs, though, will begin their last competition of the season on Saturday: the Champions League. Sure, it’s another platform to search for silverware but their job is cut out for them considering they will open their group stage campaign with an away match to Wydad Casablanca.
“I mean you go from one extreme to another,” Hunt said. “You go to play the Champions League finalists for the last two years from playing against a first division side. That’s huge and it’s a tough ask, but we’ll go there with positive minds.”
How will Hunt get his players back up on their feet after two heart-wrenching defeats in a row, considering that they were beaten 2-1 by Pirates in the league before eventually losing to Richards Bay?
“There are a couple of ways that you can handle these things, But hopefully they do care (that they’ve lost), although I haven’t spoken to them as yet,” Hunt said.
“But we need more fight and better attitude. But that’s something that’s difficult to change now. We need to work.”
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) February 7, 2021
Chiefs have a limited pool of players, considering they were banned from making any signings by Fifa this season.
However, that was earmarked as a silver lining for players who were on the fringes to fight their way back into the team.
But so far, some of those players haven’t grabbed the opportunity by the scruff of the neck.
Siphelele Ntshangase lasted for only 45 minutes against Richards Bay, while Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya received his marching orders in the second half after a second booking.
Hunt, though, pointed in opposite direction regarding his team’s fortunes on the day, considering that they could have still turned the game on its head after they were able to draw level, albeit being a man down on the day.
“We’ve got to try and use our squad. And there were few players that got a big chance today – despite obviously the results not going our way.
“There was more expected from the senior players who came in to do better – and didn’t,” Hunt said.
From the “big three” clubs in South Africa, Chiefs are the only team that has yet to win the Champions League – after Pirates and Sundowns achieved that feat in 1995 and 2016 respectively.
And with Wyad, Horoya AC and Petro de Luanda in their group this season, Chiefs will definitely need to dig deep in order to make the knockout stage.