Chiefs & Pirates Can No Longer Rely On Being Chiefs & Pirates…
Is There A Shifting Of Power In South Africa
There seems to have been a shift of power in South African football…
Kaizer Chiefs, who have won two of the last four Absa Premiership titles, sit fourth at the Christmas break, while Orlando Pirates, recent double-treble winners, are sat in the bottom half of the table.
Chiefs and Pirates have won just 24 league games out of the 66 that they have played between them in 2016 and since the start of 2015 the ‘Soweto Giants’ have claimed just one piece of silverware – Chiefs’ 2014/15 Absa Premiership win – out of a possible eight. Pirates’ only trophy since winning the league in 2012 is the 2014 Nedbank Cup.
Twice this year Chiefs have gone 7+ games without a win, and Pirates succumbed to their joint-worst defeat in the club’s history as they were hammered 6-1 by SuperSport United, prompting Muhsin Ertugral to resign live on television.
To some extent you can’t help but feel that the two biggest clubs in South Africa have rested on their laurels somewhat and – to some extent – started to believe their own hype. For years they’ve been able to sign players and succeed just because they’re Chiefs and Pirates. That’s no longer the case.
Mamelodi Sundowns – irrespective of the financial muscle that Patrice Motsepe brings – have continued to build. Not content with two league titles and two domestic cups between 2013 and 2016, Masandawana went on to conquer Africa and become the first South Africans to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.
‘Brand Kaizer Chiefs’ and ‘Brand Orlando Pirates’ are huge. There are simply are no other clubs in South Africa that can demand the sort of sponsorship and support that the Soweto Giants demand, but as we know, football is played on the field. Not off it.
I’d go as far as saying that now – aside from the few who sign with their hearts over heads – if Sundowns, SuperSport or Bidvest Wits offer exactly the same amount to a player as Chiefs or Pirates, we’d see that player in Tshwane or Braamfontein rather than Soweto. Rand for rand I think the Soweto clubs finish second nowadays.
Look at the amount of players actively deciding to leave the Glamour Boys – Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Reyaad Pieterse & Co – even though a contract offer was on the table, and the players that the Buccaneers, actually that both clubs, have missed out on despite serious interest.
Cole Alexander, Darren Keet, Anele Ngcongca. They were all free agents that Chiefs, Pirates or both, were keen to land, but they ended up elsewhere.
As fans grow more discontented with what’s going on at their clubs, both Bucs and the Glamour Boys seem more focused on making sure the huge marketing machines that have been created continue to thrive than on what is happening where it all matters. Out on the field.
Whether the downward spiral is related to the growing distance between the clubs and their head honchos cannot be known, but if it is the case then what does that say for the future as they draw closer to retirement.
The current shift in power could temporary or more long-term, however that’s a decision that is, seemingly, in the hands of the Soweto Giants themselves. It’s up to them to alter their own routes and make sure that one trophy from eight remains an exception and doesn’t become the norm.