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Why Kaizer Chiefs & Orlando Pirates must look within - no more transfer mediocrity!

2:00 am AEST 20/9/22
Kaizer Chiefs celebrate August 2022 Sithebe Solomons Billiat
Bucs won the MTN8 in 2020 but before that their previous success was the 2012 league title, Amakhosi’s last silverware was in 2015, also the league

As Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates struggle to reach their previous highs, the Soweto giants’ transfer policies and strategies may be up for revision.

Pirates won the MTN8 in 2020 but before that, their previous success was in 2012 when they won the league title. Chiefs’ last silverware was in 2015 when they claimed the league.

For clubs who have enjoyed huge success over the years, it’s fair to say they’ve been underachieving badly.

There’s not one simple reason for the slump, but one plausible and important facet in a club’s success, or lack of it, is transfer dealings.

Quality not quantity

Both the Soweto giants have spent lots of money bringing in new players in the past seven or eight years, regularly signing as many as 10 players in transfer window.

It’s always easier with hindsight, but the quality of quite a few of those arrivals can be questioned; there have been very few outright successes.

Meanwhile, when it’s come to bringing in big players, Mamelodi Sundowns have seemingly been the club prepared to pay top dollar for quality.

Maybe if Chiefs and Pirates had signed fewer players, but pushed harder to secure the really top stars, things could have been different.

Of course it’s not only about splashing money, but also the quality of the scouting networks and the ability of the key decision-makers in the club to make the right calls on player recruitment.

The Soweto giants have also tended to sign journeyman players – those in their late 20’s and even 30’s who had played for a bunch of smaller PSL teams and had good solid careers - but who are not the cream of the crop and are no more really than short-term fixes.

Big clubs like Pirates and Chiefs should be identifying top players earlier and bringing them in just ahead of their prime years; like Sundowns have done with Sipho Mbule, Rushine de Reuck, Terrence Mashego, Neo Maema, Khuliso Mudau and Teboho Mokoena to name but a few examples.

You could say Amakhosi’s Yusuf Maart falls into that sort of category, but the point is, over the years, neither of the Soweto sides have made nearly enough of those kinds of signings.

It almost feels like every season a new team is being built, such is the high turnover of players.

Fifa ban

While identifying the top-drawer talent and being prepared to pay for it is one key aspect, so too is producing one’s own talent. Many successful teams worldwide have made youth development the cornerstone of their success.

When Amakhosi were forced to look within - due to a Fifa transfer ban a couple of years back, the likes of Njabulo Blom, Nkosingiphile Ncgobo and Siyabonga Ngezana excelled. Were it not for the ban, they might not have been given nearly as much opportunity.

And if one looks back over recent years, homegrown development players who have become first-team regulars with Amakhosi or the Buccaneers, have been minimal.

It’s instead been left to the likes of Ajax Cape Town, Maritzburg United, Golden Arrows, Chippa United and Bloemfontein Celtic to develop gems from rough diamonds.

And in any case the best of those players have invariably ended up at Sundowns.

Improvements in player recruitment and youth development are surely key if South Africa’s two most popular clubs are to rise to the summit again and start winning trophies.