Kaizer Chiefs Chairman Kaizer Motaung reflects on 2015, looks ahead to 2016 and wishes the Kaizer Chiefs Family and the soccer fraternity as a whole a Happy New Year.
“We had a very good year as we look at the team’s achievements on the field. We won the Absa Premiership title, which is the highlight of any soccer season. It was in particular special the way in which we won the league championship, with a record number of points (69) for the 16-team PSL. There was a 12 points difference with runners-up Mamelodi Sundowns. On top of that, we had a 13-game winning streak in all competitions at the start of the season and went on a 19-game unbeaten run in the league.”
“Sadly, we didn’t do so well in the African Champions League, getting knocked out by Morocco’s Raja Casablanca. We had beaten Botswana’s Township Rollers in the preliminary round, but we failed to get past the Moroccans. Again, we didn’t reach the group stage of the Champions League, which was disappointing, although it is fair to say that we lost to a good team. The problem was that we lost the first leg at home. The key in the Champions League is to win at home and also not to concede at home. We learnt some valuable lessons.”
The Champions League is not easy for South African teams, because of the nature of the competition. The often long hours of travelling are very strenuous for the team from a physical point of view. It is also an expensive exercise as long as the group stage is not reached. However, we are now better prepared and it is our goal to reach the group stage in 2016.”
“Of course, I would fail in my duty as the Kaizer Chiefs Chairman if I didn’t congratulate Orlando Pirates for reaching the final of the African Confederation Cup in 2015. This was also encouraging to us, as we now have to take up the challenge to be better prepared for our Champions League campaign in the New Year.”
“Due to the qualification campaign of the National Under-23s for the Olympics, the league had a bit of a break. As a result of this, the league was stop and start, stop and start. It also means that more games – league, cup and Champions League – will be squeezed in the first five months of 2016. That will be a challenge, but we’ll just have to deal with it.”
Banyana and Under-23s
“And, while talking about the National Under-23s, congratulations for qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. Banyana Banyana have also qualified. This is a great achievement for both national sides and we look forward to them representing South Africa at the Olympics.”
Baxter leaving, Komphela coming in
“We had some significant changes to the team in 2015. Stuart Baxter indicated that he wanted to leave after the 2014/2015 season, which wasn’t in our plans. However, we had to content with that. It meant that we had to look at a new technical team and a new coach. Coupled with this, we parted ways with players like Mandla Masango, Tefu Mashamaite, Siyabonga Nkosi, Josta Dladla, Katlego Mphela and Matthew Rusike.
Steve Komphela came in as the new coach and he made a few changes to the team. We also beefed up the squad with several new signings, which was done with an eye on the 2016 African Champions League.
All these changes meant that we didn’t have the smooth transition we would have liked in the new season. We lost the momentum we had at the end of last season. The transition was also affected by the numerous injuries we had in recent months, including Itumeleng Khune, Erick Mathoho, Daniel Cardoso, Morgan Gould and David Zulu.
On the other hand, we are still within range of challenging for the league title. We also reached two cup finals. We have to commend Komphela for having achieved this in the five months that he’s in charge of the Amakhosi. It’s unfortunate that we lost both cup finals, but getting to those two finals means that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
With players having recovered from their respective injuries, I feel confident that things will go back to normal and that we will do well in 2016.”
“I don’t get too excited about Road Safety campaigns, as much as it is a noble exercise. That’s because I feel that road safety should start at the beginning of the year, it should be an everyday thing and not something only for the festive season.
Throughout the year too many South Africans lose their lives because of reckless driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Driving safe should become a culture to observe and something that should be done every day throughout the year.”
“Our Youth Development program is a work in progress. A few months ago our youth structures moved to the Village. The infrastructure is now great. We are busy working at present on implementing the correct structures, which will help us to make progress and result in the development of excellent soccer talent in the future.”
46th Anniversary and Happy New Year
“We are close to reaching the end of our 45th anniversary and we look forward to our 46th birthday on 7 January. As we all know, we were born as Kaizer Chiefs on 7 January 1970. The past year was great and we look forward towards an even better year for the Club in 2016. We are sure that we can make our supporters happy. We will be Driven to Excel.
I would like to express my best wishes to all of the Kaizer Chiefs Family and the soccer fraternity as a whole. Please all come back home in one piece from wherever you spent the festive season. A Happy New Year to all!