What Kaizer Chiefs need in the January transfer window

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Amakhosi previously dominated local football due to the quality of players they used to sign, but things haven’t been the same of late

The 2017/18 PSL season was initially deemed a make or break for Steve Komphela after he failed to deliver silverware in his first two seasons as head coach of Kaizer Chiefs.

However, the quality of players the club signed didn’t really match their ambition, and the Soweto giants find themselves on the brink of another empty season.

As things stand, Chiefs need a miracle to win the league title, and this makes the Nedbank Cup the only possible trophy they can win, although it is certainly not going to be easy for them given how they've fared in cup competitions since Stuart Baxter left the club in 2015.

So, what do the Glamour Boys need in the upcoming transfer window to tighten up the screws for what is expected to be a very tough second half of the campaign?


STRIKERS


It is common knowledge that Chiefs are struggling upfront despite having five strikers on their books right now. So far, only two of the five strikers in Bernard Parker and Gustavo Paez have featured regularly, but the duo cannot alone be relied upon given the amount of responsibility there is.

And for this reason, the club has intensified their striker search ahead of the January transfer window, rightfully so, because they are desperate to win trophies – at least the two that are on offer having already missed out on both the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout Cup.

For years now, Chiefs have not had a striker who can score over 10 goals per season, and this is probably one of the reasons they have been less competitive in the league.

Kaizer Chiefs top scorers in the last six years PS

In fact, the last time their striker produce 10 goals or more in a season was during the 2013/14 when Parker claimed the PSL’s Golden Boot. Since then, none of their strikers managed to get past the 10-goal mark.

While winning the league doesn’t really require a team to score three or four goals every week, a team of Chiefs’ calibre is expected to have no less than two quality marksmen to deliver goals for them each game.

Leonardo Castro has already put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year deal and he is the kind of striker Amakhosi need right now. He understands the South African football better after two seasons at Mamelodi Sundowns. He is lacking match fitness and hasn't scored since March, but his ability as a striker cannot be underestimated. 

Sundowns, Leonardo Castro

Prince Nxumalo, another striker who’s now linked with a possible move to the Glamour Boys, is more than ready to play for a big team like Chiefs, and given the experience he has gained over the years, he can fancy his chances at Naturena.

However, he is not the only player Chiefs are targeting because Komphela has already identified at least one unnamed Ghanaian marksman.  

Stephen Sarfo is believed to be the man Komphela wants to bring on board, but do they really need him at this stage? Take nothing away from the Berekum Chelsea striker, but he may need a few months to find his feet in the PSL should Chiefs decide to go after his signature.

As previously highlighted, Komphela doesn’t have enough time to save his job, and Sarfo might not be the perfect striker for Chiefs right now. They need quality strikers who will come in and walk straight into the starting line-up and score goals immediately. 


CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER


The majority of Chiefs' goals still from set-pieces and crosses, not only because that has become an integral part of modern game, but they look very thin centrally.

The depth and quality in that position is lacking, and this has often forced Komphela to rotate a few players in that position. George Maluleka is often played too deep, and doesn’t offer much going forward, hence the less number of goals he has scored so far in his career at Chiefs.

Hendrick Ekstein has also been played there, but then again, his indecisiveness in the final takes away all the team’s hard work because he doesn’t have enough goals in him.

Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker both look comfortable in that position, but they are moved around far too often, and that upsets the rhythm of the team, resulting in Chiefs looking blunt upfront despite the chances they created week and week out.

Themba Zwane of Sundowns against Bidvest Wits

When Keagan Buchanan arrived in 2016, the aim was to give him that role and ensure that the team exploits the space and attack on all fronts.

However, he hasn’t been given a fair chance to own that position, and at this stage, it is a little bit too late for Komphela to try new combinations, especially with Buchanan in that position because he probably lacks match fitness.

A more established player in the mould of Themba Zwane, who has just signed a new deal with Sundowns, could fit the bill. With Zwane's future now secured at Sundowns, Chiefs should look for a younger player to take over the No.10 role on a permanent basis.         


LEFT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER


Tshabalala remains Amakhosi’s only reliable left winger, and the team doesn’t look the same if he’s not playing either due to injury or some tactical decisions.

At 33, Shabba is the oldest player in the current squad, and Komphela shouldn’t be relying heavily on him for the creation and scoring of goals as this has been the case over the past year-and-a-half.

When George Lebese left for Sundowns, it was already too late for Chiefs to replace with an equally capable player who can also score goals for them, but the month of January presents them with an opportunity to plague that gap, but they will need to be smart when going into the transfer market.    

Free State Stars, Sinethemba Jantjie

Chiefs need someone who’s got pace, skill and goals in them to take the baton for the next three to four years. There aren’t too many options available to them in the local market, but very few names come to mind locally, including that of Sinethemba Jantjie of Free State Stars and Vincent Pule of Bidvest Wits.

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Jantjie (27), even with little experience in the top flight, has so far proven to everyone that he’s more than capable of handling the pressure. He’s good on the ball, has got pace and has an eye for goals. The big question though is whether or not he can handle the pressure of playing for a big team like Chiefs.

Many a time, the majority of players shine at relatively smaller clubs, but fail dismally when they move to bigger clubs in the PSL, and this remains the biggest challenge, not only for Chiefs, but for the likes of Orlando Pirates and Sundowns as well, and that’s where Komphela will need to be smart when deciding who to sign in January.

Pule is only beginning to get game time this season after two seasons on the sidelines, and with him, it's a question of readiness. He's more of a long-term investment than an immediate solution for the ailing Soweto giants. 

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