Gavin Hunt was the right choice to take over as coach of Kaizer Chiefs and there is no need to panic after the shaky start to the PSL season – but there is a considerable way to go to match the legendary Amakhosi teams he captained in the 1990s.
These were the perceptive views of Neil Tovey, who led both Chiefs and Bafana Bafana to notable success and in June completed a five-year stint as SAFA’s technical director.
“I actually suggested to Chiefs’ boss, Kaizer Motaung, some time back that he consider Gavin as coach,” revealed Tovey, “but the coach has had the bad luck to begin his tenure at the club with two strikes against him – namely the Fifa disciplinary ban that prevents the signing of new players until the end of the season and the injuries suffered to three such key players as Samir Nurkovic, Eric Mathoho and Nelson Castro.”
“The net result is not only that Hunt has not only been unable to build and improve on the line-up that came so close to ending the five-year title drought in the Premiership League race last season, but has had to seek improvements with what has effectively been a weaker squad.
“The disconcerting result is that Chiefs were not only outplayed in a 3-0 defeat against Mamelodi Sundowns, the club that now boasts much of the aura of success they once enjoyed themselves, in the opening Premiership game of the season, but over the week-end suffered a second humbling 3-0 defeat against arch-derby rivals Orlando Pirates in the first-leg MTN 8 semi-final,” said Tovey.
With the title drought still a distant prospect, the Amakhosi now have to take stock in what appears the relatively less testing mid-week DSTV League game against newcomers TS Galaxy, before attempting the awesome task of making up the three-goal leeway on The Buccaneers in the second-leg MTN 8 semi-final.
“We can only do our best and battle on in the circumstances,” says Hunt, “and hope that the luck that has not always gone our way shows a change of direction.”
As for Tovey, now back in Durban and not directly involved in soccer after the completion of his contract with SAFA, he says he still has a measure of sympathy and support for the club he led in better days.
“But I’m quite content attending to certain business interests in Durban right now,” he added, “and free of the headaches that invariably come your way in soccer administration.”