Home Sport Come to think of it, 2021 was a good year for Chiefs

Come to think of it, 2021 was a good year for Chiefs

Khama Billiat celebrates goal with Keagan Dolly during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 football match between Swallows FC and Kaizer Chiefs at Dobsonville Stadium, Johannesburg on 28 November 2021 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

A thorough analysis will tell you that this year was actually good for the Naturena-based outfit, writes Mihlali Baleka.

IT’S PROBABLY easy to look at Kaizer Chiefs’ barren run in 2021 and conclude “how the mighty has fallen”. But a thorough research, inspection and analysis will tell you that this year was actually good for the Naturena-based outfit.

Of course, do not hear me wrong. The success of a football club is gauged by the number of titles they’ve won over a certain period, and that Amakhosi haven’t won a trophy in six years doesn’t align with their famous tag of ‘Cup Kings’.

Perhaps this year was a gentle reminder of what they stand for as the biggest footballing institution in the country. That they couldn’t finish in the Premiership’s top three after a late sneak into the top eight was disappointing from their perspective.

But those tears were expected to be wiped away by the fact that a victory in the Champions League final would all but give them a chance to defend their crown this season.

That wasn’t to be, though, as they bowed to the ultimate kings of African club football Al Ahly in the final.

Even in defeat, though, that was an achievement for the club as they had never reached those lofty heights in their 51 years of existence – a period when they had entrenched themselves as the most successful football club in Mzansi.

Amid that run it was easy to tip Chiefs to be one of the teams that would contest for all the honours up for grabs. Their transfer ban had been lifted, while their most – and only – successful coach in the last decade returned to their base at the Village.

Stuart Baxter, however, found the going tough at first. His reputation having taken a few knocks after stints at Bafana Bafana and in India, here he was with a newly structured team that he had to prepare in order to compete with the best.

The winless run continued and their discerning supporters started to believe that their team deserved better than the Brit.

But at the height of the storm Baxter found himself with some room to breathe as two “rejects” kept him in the job.

Keagan Dolly joined Chiefs after a disappointing spell in France to rousing jeers, while his weight issues did not make things easy for him. He was set to link up with Khama Billiat, whose career was said to have seen better days.

The two mates combined to revive three-quarters of the famous ‘CBD’ (which included Leonardo Castro, who’s also a Chiefs player). And for their exploits, Amakhosi climbed up the log. Dolly returned to Bafana and won monthly awards.

The detection of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron brought gloom to Chiefs’ camp as there was an outbreak at their base. In a bid to save lives, Chiefs opted to forfeit two games after their appeal to postpone them was declined by the PSL.

That decision was well received by some members of the fraternity, who reasoned with their intentions. So, kudos to them for the gesture.

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