“The supporters responded in a big way,” says Kaizer Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung as he looks back at the first half 2019/20 season.
“They really came on board for the team. And for their role all, applause must go to them. The supporters are key stakeholders and their vote of confidence counts in sports. This year has been a big vote of confidence from them.”
Halfway into the season, Amakhosi top the Absa Premiership standings and are a healthy seven points ahead.
“We had a year that started with possibilities. We had an opportunity to clinch silverware, but lady Luck deserted us when we least expected,” here Motaung is referring to an unexpected loss in the Nedbank Cup final against TS Galaxy.
“It was unfortunate to lose that match but we’re focusing on the future now.“
Amakhosi, with 49 years history on their back took it on the chin and dusted off the setback.
“We didn’t get discouraged,” adds Motaung, “We’ve been in this game for a while and have the full understanding of its ups and downs. We operate in this journey tirelessly.
“This season we embarked on a journey of change. We started off with a team camp of a different kind. The camp emphasised on developing teamwork and camaraderie among the team. We also acquired players in areas of need. We brought in five players after releasing no less than thirteen players.”
Samir Nurković, Kearyn Baccus, Yagan Sasman, James Kotei and Lazalous Kambole joined Chiefs at the start of the season.
“I’m glad to see at least three of the five players playing regularly,” says Motaung. “it’s a good return because sometimes the new players take time to acclimatise to the new environment. But already we’ve seen Nurković making inroads, while Sasman and Baccus have cemented their roles in the team. I’m pleased with their progress and trust very soon Kambole and Kotei will make their presence felt.
“We intensified other soft elements pertaining the technical team. The scouting, mental support and diversity training among other technical aspects of the game. We continue to work hard to fuse the Kaizer Chiefs Development Academy and the first team. We are making progress and have seen a steady progress and promotion of the youngsters to the first team. Notably, this season we saw the rising star in Njabulo Blom in the first team.”
Chiefs are on top of the log with 35 points after 14 matches played – 11 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss plus Telkom Knockout Cup semifinals.
“We have started well,” continues Motaung. “We are happy with the progress so far but we are experienced enough to know the journey is still on. We have to stay focused and continue with the hard work.
“I want to thank the Chairman for his support and vision. We wouldn’t be where we are if it was not for his leadership. We are in a good position on the log and we already conquered top teams and rivals Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns. All this hopefully was a good 75th birthday gift to the Chairman and 50th anniversary gift to the Club. All this powered by the supporters and the energy they bring to the stadium.”
Chiefs continued to make a contribution internationally, and Motaung notes, “it is important to contribute to the national teams. I am happy we had both junior and senior players; youth coaches, scouts and analysts play roles in South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“The team did the business on the field of play – thank you to the team for their hard work. I’m happy for the team work as well as outstanding individual contributions. The coach has been recognised on three consecutive occasions as Absa Premiership Coach of the Month. Daniel Akpeyi came to the party when Itumeleng Khune got injured. I’m glad he’s been recognised with Player of the Month accolade.
“As we close off 2019, let us look forward to the new year with the same energy. The support and the energy from the streets, messages and singing and dancing at the stadium rubbed off the team to perform on the field of play.
“I wish everyone a happy crossover to 2020. Let the journey continue in the same spirit and unity,” he concludes.