Chiefs came across as circumspect, considering their ongoing issue with Fifa, handing goalkeeper Brylon Petersen, defender Philani Zulu and midfielder Siphelele Ntshangase improved one-year deals at the Village.
Could it be that they already know that they are fighting a losing battle? Or was it just precautionary measures?
Those are some of the questions that outside observers are asking after Kaizer Chiefs made a handful of contract extensions this week with players that were barely part of coach Ernst Middendorp’s plans this season.
As Chiefs appeared to have dusted themselves off from the doldrums of a trophy drought – they’ve held onto the summit of the log standings for the better part of the season – their resurgence hit a snag in recent months.
Early in February, the Soweto giants were handed a one-year transfer ban by Fifa, following complaints from amateur Malagasy outfit Fosa Juniors that they didn’t justifiably compensate them for the transfer of Andriamirado “Dax” Andrianarimanana two years ago.
Andrianarimanana, who was also handed a four-months ban from football-related activities, has since served his sentence and will be available to play for Black Leopards, where he’s currently on loan, should the season resume.
On the other hand, Chiefs’ transfer ban is still in place as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will only sit for their appeal on September 9 – few days after the initially scheduled transfer window would have closed in South African football.
There hasn’t been a notice from the PSL about whether there will be an extension to the transfer window, considering that the season hasn’t been concluded because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, but some clubs have made arrangements for contract extensions on a short and long-term basis beyond June 30.
On their side, Chiefs came across as circumspect, considering their ongoing issue with Fifa, handing goalkeeper Brylon Petersen, defender Philani Zulu and midfielder Siphelele Ntshangase improved one-year deals at the Village.
The trio have played minor roles in Chiefs’ resurgence this season. Released by the club at the end of last campaign, Petersen rejoined Amakhosi as the fourth-choice goalkeeper late last year.
Zulu, a knight in shining armour for Middendorp during their days at Maritzburg United, has failed to break into the first team since the German coach returned to Amakhosi 18 months ago. The defender has made only three appearances this season.
Ntshangase’s stint, meanwhile, has been another issue altogether. Upon his arrival at Naturena two and a half seasons ago, Ntshangase received a warm reception from the Amakhosi faithful, especially after promising to deliver “champagne passes”.
The 27-year-old, however, is yet to perform to expectations, especially after falling down the pecking order under Middendorp, who demanded that he should be more of a team player when it comes to defending and not focussing just on attack.
Given that a second chance can also produce a fresh start, Ntshangase is one player that will need to step up during this last stretch of the season – as Chiefs look to consolidate their No. 1 spot – especially in light of the recent departure of George Maluleka, who’ll join Mamelodi Sundowns from next season.
Maluleka left Amakhosi on Wednesday together with injury prone midfielder Joseph Malongoane and playmaker Kabelo Mahlasela who was not in the coach’s plans, as the club appears intent on finishing the season with a group of players that will be integral next term.
With Chiefs at the summit of the log standings, a championship finish and qualification for CAF competition remains a huge possibility. If they lose their appeal against the transfer ban Chiefs will hope that retaining Petersen, Zulu and Ntshangase will pay dividends across all competitions next season.