Amakhosi have lost their aura and charisma

Cape Town – It was suggested by one source that Kaizer Chiefs rose to prominence a soccer giant who went on to dabble in business, but has now become a business giant that dabbles in soccer.

A cynical observation, no doubt, seeking to explain the current decline of an entity that earned the right to be known as the glamour team of South African soccer, boasting millions of supporters all over the land.

So what truly ails the Amakhosi, who on the pitch at any rate have become only a pale shadow of the dynamic force they once were.

Chiefs have not annexed a single official mainstream title over the past three seasons, something that would have been classified as unthinkable a couple of decades ago.

And they have lost their aura and charisma in the process, not to mention an ever-growing number of supporters, while poised on the brink of a true crisis if they do not end the title drought by achieving success in the season-ending Nedbank Cup.

That is what makes the semi-final against Free State Stars in 10 days time so important, well-nigh vital to restore for Amakhosi a degree of their reputation – sullied further by the bottle-throwing on the pitch by angry and irrational followers after the 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Chippa United the past weekend.

Yet when Chiefs won the right via the PSL draw procedure to play the Stars' game on home turf, they elected to plump for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban instead of their recognised home ground at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

There are reasons for this, if not entirely justifiable in the prevailing circumstances.

Traditionally, when going into a cup draw, a soccer team, in addition to hoping to be paired by a suitable opponent, seeks nothing more than to receive home-ground advantage.

Not so Chiefs! They often blithely play home matches in Durban and other away venues for financial and other reasons, while pointing out they are assured vast popular support no matter where they are playing in South Africa.

But it's a general principle in soccer to cement a home fortress. Imagine Barcelona playing a home fixture in Madrid – or Manchester United going to London by choice?

But it is symptomatic of Chiefs' decline that their worst results this season have been at FNB Stadium – and what might finally have decided on the move to Durban is the failure to win any of their last four games at FNB Stadium, losing twice and drawing twice.

One can only hope it was not motivated by making more money playing at Moses Mabhida Stadium!

It is in this stark situation that coach Steve Komphela, an astute former Bafana Bafana and Amakhosi captain, who has presided over the Chiefs' decline, finds himself embroiled.

And as is fitting of a wise, owlish and qualified school headmaster, Komphela is first to accept that in such circumstances, right or wrong, "who do you blame, but the coach? – it's part and parcel of the game."

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