It was not as riveting as coach Tony D’Amato’s ‘Inches’ speech in the movie Any Given Sunday. But Danny Jordan’s address to Kaizer Chiefs ahead of their CAF Champions League final clash with Al Ahly was compelling alright.
JOHANNESBURG – It was not as riveting as coach Tony D’Amato’s (a role played to near-perfection by Al Pacino) ‘Inches’ speech prior to the Miami Sharks’ play-off match in the movie Any Given Sunday. But Danny Jordan’s address to Kaizer Chiefs ahead of their CAF Champions League final clash with holders and record winners Al Ahly was compelling alright.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) president delivered such inspiring a talk to Amakhosi at training on Thursday you’d wish he’d waited until the morning of the match so the players could trot on to the pitch of the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, Morocco with his words still ringing in their ears.
Jordan dug deep into his well of experience, both political and football, to make Bernard Parker and Co aware of the magnitude of the match they are about to play and showed them just what success would mean – not just for them and the country but for theirs and the club’s legacy.
Words such as solidarity, management, hope, history, commitment and dedication rolled off Jordan’s tongue as he shed off that somewhat stoic persona of his and took on that of an accomplished orator.
Reminding Chiefs of the current unrest they left back at home, he advised them to remember that solidarity and hope are what’s needed in such situations and urged them that their victory would provide the country with exactly that.
Granted he littered his talk with the typical clichés such as ‘you don’t get this opportunity everyday’ and ‘matches are won in 90 minutes and not on history’. But that shouldn’t be allowed to take away from the confidence he must have inspired the Chiefs players with.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) July 16, 2021
“You’ve generated so much hope and expectation around you and now you cannot do what people expected in the beginning – they didn’t expect you here,” he said in reference to the fact Amakhosi have surprised all and sundry by getting to the ultimate stage of the continent’s premier club knockout competition.
“You took the journey and showed that at the end of the day it is your effort, your energy and your drive that brings success. It is not your history, not your name, nothing but the 90 minutes management and performance in that final.”
That he did not venture into a song for his next bit of inspiration was perhaps because Jordan was aware he was talking to a group of youthful footballers perhaps somewhat far removed from the country’s dark history.
But the words no doubt made sense to the players still.
“You’ve come too far,” he told them, before he gave them the context of what he meant “There was an American Negro spiritual (song), and we sang it in the times of the struggle. It said ‘we’ve come too far to turn back now; by the grace of God, we made it somehow. No one has seen the trouble we’ve been through. We’ve come too far to turn back now.’ You’ve come too far.”
Lest they didn’t get him proper, Jordan swiftly switched from the spiritual/political mode to what the players understand best – football.
“This is where you are. Just 90 minutes away to write the most glorious history of Chiefs. And in South African football you know how it is. In Bafana (Bafana, the senior national team) they still talk about the African Nations Cup that they won in 1996. You can win the (local) league every year, but the (CAF) Champions League they will talk about it forever. They will even ask you ‘how many times did Chiefs win the league or the Nedbank Cup’? But they will always remember that year and that moment when you won the Champions League.”
Jordan then upped the ante by subtly reminding Chiefs that their fans deserve to be given some respite from the ridiculing they’ve been enduring from their bitter adversaries.
“(Orlando) Pirates is still talking about 1995, the star that they won,” he said in reference to the Buccaneers’ Champions Cup success of eons ago “And in their moment of darkness for them, the fans remind them: ‘we have a star’. So you have that moment, to bring continental glory to our country. You deserve it to be here.”
But, at the end Saturday is really about the current Chiefs players leaving an indelible mark on the club’s history.
“If you put in the same commitment and dedication you’ve done to bring you this far, you will write that star on the Kaizer Chiefs jersey. And whatever they say after that, Bernard Parker, you tell them that ‘I put the star on that jersey’. And the young man who will come after you will put on that jersey with a star on and will remember it is because of your effort.
“That it is because of all of you, that the jersey carries that star. The (winners’) medal you forget. The trophy you put in the cabinet. But the star is for the next generation. It is an inspiration for the next generation to get the second and the third one. So this is your moment and I want to wish you all the best.”
It probably wouldn’t do the Amakhosi technical team any harm to replay the Jordan speech as part of their pre-match team talk on Saturday.