Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

Kaizer Chiefs: The banter era is at full go at Naturena

kaizer chiefs ernst middendorpKaizer Chiefs fans were not afforded the chance t celebrate the departure of Giovanni Solinas, as they were soon brought down to earth with the announcement that Ernst Middendorp would take over as head coach.

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kaizer chiefs 1200x798 - Kaizer Chiefs: The banter era is at full go at Naturena

Kaizer Chiefs has been seen as neither here nor there this season, but their latest appointment has proven that the club is actually somewhere – well and truly in the “banter era”.

Amakhosi announced on Friday that they had parted ways with Italian coach Giovanni Solinas, something that was not entirely surprising given his poor run of results at the club, but a bombshell was dropped a mere hour later with the announcement of his replacement, Ernst Middendorp.

The German tactician is no stranger to the club, having had a stint there from 2005 to 2007, but will not be remembered too fondly by the supporters, despite contributing two of the country’s most popular club’s 53 top-flight trophies.

Under his watch, the Naturena-based club developed a reputation for collecting stalemates, a feat which earned him his nickname “Middendraw” in his first season. This was followed by an even worse run in the following campaign, which resulted in him getting sacked midway through, with his charges stationed in midtable.

However, his unsuccessful first spell at the club did not stand in the way of the Motaungs banking on him bringing to an end a trophy drought of over three years, as he was handed a contract of two and a half years.

This optimism is not shared by the Amakhosi fans, who have witnessed their club go from being a dominant force in local football to pure comic relief in the space of three years.

The Kaizer Chiefs banter-era timeline

The once-mighty Glamour Boys have spent the last three and a half seasons testing the limits of the banter scale, starting from the appointment of the eccentric Steve Komphela.

The former Bafana skipper had been in charge of a Free State Stars side that had punched above its weight under his watch and commanded a great deal of respect in local football circles.

However, his barren spell saw whatever high regard he was held on evaporating gradually as it was now Chiefs who were pulling off “giant-killing” feats against the likes of Golden Arrows and losing valiantly to esteemed teams such as Chippa United.

This sparked the ire of their supporters, who hurled as many insults as they did missiles in his direction, and thinks would eventually come to a head with ugly scenes at Moses Mabhida Stadium after Komphela’s former side knocked his current charges out of the Nedbank Cup, prompting a public resignation.

In the search for a replacement, the reported candidate list consisted of some big names, including former Chelsea manager Avram Grant and the likes of Patrice Carterton.

The absence of a head coach did not prevent a few big-name signings, signalling that the Soweto giants were keen to reclaim their former glory, only for a left-field appointment in the form of another former Free State Stars man in Solinas

The Italian had two brief stints at Ea Lla Koto, where he was effectively commissioned with bringing them out of the relegation zone and, in his new role at Amakhosi, never really got going as they displayed midtable football throughout.

While bitter rivals Orlando Pirates’ recent ascendancy in the Soweto derby had begun under Komphela, five months of Solinas saw the Buccaneers add a quick two wins over their foes, before losing to a club from the mighty footballing nation of Zanzibar in the Caf Confederations Cup.

Time for “Mazinyo” to sink his teeth in

The latter defeat was to be Solinas’ final match in charge, and Kaizer Chiefs will now look into the future with a blast from the past, whose first game in charge is in the league against Supersport United, before taking on the indomitable Elgeco Plus from Madagascar over two legs in the next round of the Confed Cup.

Middendorp will begin next year with a light assignment against Mamelodi Sundwons, and has another Soweto derby to contend soon after.

The man known as “Mazinyo” will be hoping the only teeth on display in his second stint at the club will be those belonging to grinning fans in Kaizer Chiefs famous colours.

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