Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: OPINION: How Kaizer Chiefs should line up next season

OPINION: How Kaizer Chiefs should line up next season

Kaizer Chiefs head coach Gavin Hunt

Unquestionably, coach Gavin Hunt’s tenure could have been much better if he was allowed to merge his current Chiefs squad that agonisingly surrendered the league to Mamelodi Sundowns on the final day last season, together with the quality players he previously coached at the now defunct Bidvest Wits, who finished in fourth position, just seven points off the champions Masandawana. However, with the FIFA imposed transfer ban, it just wasn’t possible.

It might not seem like it right now when results are going against you, whilst your perennial rivals continue to grow from strength to strength, but the transfer ban could prove to be a blessing in disguise for a club that has been a sleeping giant for far too long and in desperate need for a long overdue squad overhaul to change their fortunes and get them back to where their loyal fans believe they belong. For instance, take Chelsea in the 2019/20 campaign.

Surely the hierarchy at Chiefs are planning for an indulgent shopping spree and Gavin Hunt would no doubt have drafted his shortlist, but I’ve compiled a list of my own that would certainly bolster his squad for the next campaign.

We’re all expecting a number of outgoings and incomings in July, with the eagerly-anticipated new-signings being announced all struggling to get into a single frame like the photos at family gatherings. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the talents I have handpicked to join South Africa’s most beloved club.

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1. Thato Mokeke

Cape Town City's midfield anchor Thato Mokeke

Born: 1 April 1989 (Age: 31)
Playing position: Central midfielder
Nationality: South African
Club: Cape Town City

A spine of a new team needs to be established, this is why my top-priority acquisition would be signing a central midfielder who is capable of intelligently reading the game to break down opposition attacks and then release the ball with accurate, perfectly weighted passes into the feet of attacking players who can hurt opponents.

Thato Mokeke would be the ideal addition. The former SuperSport United, Ajax Cape Town and Chippa United midfielder has been around the block, and it’s fair to say his matured into one of the best players in the league in his role, allowing the full-backs to create width on the flanks as he shields the defence.

A very underrated yet vital role that was displayed to the tee by the likes of Manchester City’s Fernandinho, Real Madrid’s Casemiro and my personal favourite Sergio Busquets for Spain and Barcelona in the last decade.

2. Thabo Nodada

Midfield talisman Thabo Nodada

Born: 2 May 1995 (Age: 25)
Playing position: Midfielder
Nationality: South African
Club: Cape Town City

There’s been plenty of speculation that Ixopo-born midfielder Thabo Nodada will join the club he supported since childhood, but it hasn’t materialised just yet.

Fuel was added to the fire in recent interviews in which Nodada explained that despite signing a two-year contract extension with the Citizens, he still believes his chances of joining the country’s biggest club haven’t evaporated.

In two months, the silky smooth, technically-gifted player will turn 26 and offer Amakhosi as well as Bafana Bafana the peak years of his career. Nodada has the ability to thread beautiful through balls, is fearless when taking on opponents in one-vs-one situations and simply has that magic spark to ignite his fellow teammates into threatening goalscoring opportunities.

Affectionately known as “Kante” by his teammates for his determination off the ball, Nodada is the complete player to build a team around and would serve as my marquee signing.

3. Teboho Mokoena

SuperSport United's midfield dynamo Teboho Mokoena

Born: 24 January 1997 (Age: 24)
Playing position: Midfielder
Nationality: South African
Club: SuperSport United

Teboho Mokoena’s stock is set to rise with each passing year and now would be the perfect time to lock him down to a lucrative contract.

As a 19-year-old, Mokoena proudly represented South Africa in the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in South Korea, two years later making his debut for Bafana Bafana, and notably already has CAF Confederations Cup experience under his belt, banging in first senior goal against Congolese giant’s TP Mazembe.

Mokoena earned the nickname “Mbaza” meaning “The Axe” due to his tough-tackling and no-nonsense approach in the heart of SuperSport United’s midfield, where he has made over 100 appearances across all competitions before turning 24.

Another brilliant addition, but similar to the Nodada deal, it would require a sizable amount of “Chelete” to pry him away from Matsatsantsa who’d definitely want to hold onto their most prized asset.

4. Mduduzi Mdantsane

Cape Town City's attacking midfielder Mduduzi Mdantsane

Born: 13 December 1994 (Age: 26)
Playing position: Midfielder
Nationality: South African
Club: Cape Town City

The first time I noticed Mduduzi Mdantsane was in the colours of Baroka FC where the Mpumalanga-born midfielder was immense and over a two-year spell became my favourite player in the league, closely followed by Lesedi Kapinga who was at Black Leopards at the time.

At Baroka, Mdantsane was their skipper, conductor of the orchestra, beautiful football that flowed through him, coupled with courage and determination to win every single ball.

It’s no wonder Dutch coach Jan Olde Riekerink made Mdantsane a priority signing just a month after coming to South Africa in 2019 and has certainly repaid the faith shown in him by his manager.

Interestingly, Mdantsane also had the opportunity to be coached by Kaizer Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo for a brief period in 2018 at Baroka. Doctor’s opinion is highly-respected as a football man who knows the ins and outs of the game and if he recommends a player, surely, he’ll be in Gold and Black soon enough. 

5. Kgaogelo Sekgota

One of the brightest attacking players in South Africa Kgaogelo Sekgota

Born: 22 June 1997 (Age: 23)
Playing position: Winger
Nationality: South African
Club: Moroka Swallows FC

Kgaogelo Sekgota is one of the most exciting attacking players in the league. The tricky 23-year-old winger that’s blessed with admirable pace was tipped to join Amakhosi after returning from a spell abroad where Sekgota spent a combined total of four seasons at Lithuanian club FC Stumbras and later Portuguese outfit Vitoria Setubal.

However, following Chiefs’ unsuccessful appeal to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports), Sekgota then signed a short-term deal with newly-promoted Moroka Swallows FC, on a 12-month contract, hinting that a deal to Kaizer Chiefs could well be on the cards in the upcoming months when their transfer ban is uplifted.

There’s no doubt that “Kigi” is a predacious talent that deserves to don the famous Chiefs jersey and keep their fans at the edge of their seats after doing this for the Dube Birds more often than not in the current campaign. He is the one player that really stimulates the inner football purist in me.

6. Ashley Du Preez

Stellenbosch FC's fearless winger Ashley Du Preez

Born: 16 July 1997 (Age: 23)
Playing position: Forward
Nationality: South African
Club: Stellenbosch FC

Another bright prospect for the wider areas is former Vasco da Gama winger, Ashley Du Preez, who’s also just 23-year-old. In his second season of top-flight football, coach Steve Barker and the technical team at Stellenbosch FC have been taking the lightening quick forward’s game from strength to strength.

Chiefs currently have the likes of ageing players like Khama Billiat and Lebogang Manyama in these positions who aren’t capable to consistently achieve peak levels of performance with the fixtures coming thick and fast.

This is where Sekgota and Du Preez should come in and learn from the old guard before taking over as the tried and tested in the near future. Du Preez is no stranger to hard work and if you put the iconic Chiefs colours on this young man, he will give his all and work daily with the correct mindset and attitude under the guidance of fellow Capetonian, coach Gavin Hunt.

7. Siyanda Xulu

Commanding central defender Siyanda Xulu

Born: 30 December 1991 (Age: 29)
Playing position: Central defender
Nationality: South African
Club: Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

The only player based outside of South Africa that intrigues me is Durban-born Siyanda Xulu, who’s been a regular feature at the heart of defence for Israeli outfit Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Xulu also spent three seasons each at Mamelodi Sundowns and Russian outfit Rostov following his departure from Kaizer Chiefs’ youth setup in 2009.

The towering defender has now earned his tertiary education in football with numerous different experiences that can now bear fruits at Naturena, if given the chance. This would be a very smart move on the part of Chiefs to add an experienced campaigner who’s also a very intimating presence that can easily deal with aerial threats.

It makes a lot of sense in football terms as Xulu is struggling to crack the Bafana Bafana squad and will get the opportunity to complete the goal he set out for himself in 2008 as a 16-year-old, becoming a top-quality defender for the biggest team in the land.

8. Njabulo Ngcobo

Moroka Swallows FC's pillar of strength Njabulo Ngcobo

Born: 27 May 1994 (Age: 26)
Playing position: Central defender
Nationality: South African
Club: Moroka Swallows FC

Njabulo Ngcobo had represented a host of Kwa-Zulu Natal clubs including AmaZulu, Richards Bay and most recently Uthongathi FC last season before making the move to the top-flight with newly-promoted Moroka Swallows FC.

It’s been a pleasure and rather refreshing to witness the Folweni native seamlessly adapting to the best the country has to offer. With a shortage of top-notch central defenders in the Bafana Bafana setup, many fans were calling for the 26-year-old to be drafted into the squad.

Personally, I’m also one of the fans who believes that Ngcobo has all the tools to make it at Chiefs and reach the very top. Some critics might say that age is not on his side but a simple eye test can show you that we are witnessing a brilliant defender.

Under the tutelage of Hunt who’s prominent for creating title-winning teams from an axis of powerful defenders, Ngcobo’s game would reach an even higher level.

9. Nkosinathi Sibisi

A proud graduate of Lamontville Golden Arrows academy Nkosinathi Sibisi

Born: 22 September 1995 (Age: 25)
Playing position: Central defender
Nationality: South African
Club: Lamontville Golden Arrows

“I don’t like the modern day full-back‚ I need defenders who can defend‚”

“Let defenders be defenders and attackers be attackers.”

This is the coach’s game plan and “football philosophy” as many refer to it nowadays, extracted from comments made from his time at Bidvest Wits.

For this reason, I’ve chosen another stellar defender that has recently come under the spotlight with Lamontville Golden Arrows who only trail the defending-champions Masandawana on the log standings.

If the coach needs defenders who can simply defend, there’s no one better suited than the lion-hearted Nkosinathi Sibisi.

Abafana Bes'thende have been magnificent under the guidance of Mandla Ncikazi and deserve all the plaudits for their exploits this season after finishing fifth from bottom last year.

Sibisi has earned his move to a top club and Chiefs would be foolish to pass up on this no-nonsense central defender whose composed and reliable in possession of the ball and marshals his back line ever so well, which is his primary focus.

10. Edmilson Dove

Mozambican left-back Edmilson Dove

Born: 18 July 1994 (Age: 26)
Playing position: Left-back
Nationality: Mozambican
Club: Cape Town City

Edmilson Dove is one of the most talented full-backs in the country for me and in my personal opinion, if you had both Reeve Frosler and the Mozambican left-back in the same team, there would be no shortage of quality service to Hunt’s type of classical number nine’s who dominate aerial duels.

Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro need these types of players who can bring out their strengths, allowing them to challenge for the ball and bully opposition defenders.

The team will definitely benefit; however, it remains to be seen if the 26-year-old can reach the heights he previously achieved after undergoing knee surgery that has kept him out of action for the better part of a year.

Should Kaizer Chiefs sign Dove, they would have a top player on their hands that can take them to the next level sooner rather than later.

11. Wensten van der Linde

TS Galaxy's number one Wensten van der Linde

Born: 29 April 1990 (Age: 30)
Playing position: Goalkeeper
Nationality: South African
Club: TS Galaxy

The goalkeeper issue needs to be addressed.

Firstly, I am a massive admirer of Itumeleng Khune, although, there have been too many glaringly obvious mistakes that has seen him bear the brunt of social media banter among rival fans. Secondly, Daniel Akpeyi turns 35 at the end of the season and has also made costly blunders.

Both goalkeepers are ageing and something needs to be done where we can have the best of both. Step up TS Galaxy’s number one, Wensten van der Linde.

He’s physically strong, has acquired the guile and smarts from playing in the second-tier not so long ago, but what excites me the most is his diagonal crosses and weight of passes that are at times better than majority of the deep lying midfielders of our league.

Brandon Petersen has also been linked to be reunited with his former coach Hunt. Personally, I’d keep Khune and recruit van der Linde as his successor.

Written by Bryan Naicker