Home Sport Shabba says that Chiefs’ lack of playing philosophy is a problem

Shabba says that Chiefs’ lack of playing philosophy is a problem

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The club have always been lauded for their ability to unearth raw talent and polish them into continental stars but that trend seems to have hit a slow puncture due to the club’s downward spiral.

Mfundo Vilakazi of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Moses Mthembu and Thabani Dube of of Richards Bay. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Smiso Msomi

Kaizer Chiefs legend Siphiwe Tshabalala has urged the club to protect rising star Mfundo Vilakazi and their other youngsters in order to return the club to its former glory.

The Soweto giants are nearing the end of yet another disappointing season, having failed to win silverware in nearly nine years, a travesty for a club renowned for being ‘cup kings’ in the country.

With four games of the 2023/24 campaign remaining, Amakhosi sit in eighth spot in the DStv Premiership standings and are at risk of missing out on the MTN8 tournament next season for the second time in the past seven years.

The club have always been lauded for their ability to unearth raw talent and polish them into continental stars but that trend seems to have hit a slow puncture due to the club’s downward spiral.

The Glamour Boys last won a major trophy in 2015 when the likes of Tshabalala, Bernard Parker and Reneilwe Letsholonyane (who were all Bafana internationals at the time) were led by Stuart Baxter to become South African champions.

That squad also comprised some of the club’s most successful academy graduates like Itumeleng Khune and Mandla Masango, with Lorenzo Gordinho just breaking through as well.

Speaking to IOL, Tshabalala expressed the importance of the club protecting some of their finest gems if they are to have any chance of reclaiming their glory.

The 39-year-old had a special mention for Mfundo “Obrigado” Vilakazi, who was recently handed his first-team contract by the club and has been likened to those generational left-footed talents of yesteryear.

“I like the boy (Vilakazi), he’s very talented and he’s proven that in the DDC (DStv Diski Challenge) and he did the same in the Black Label All-Star match, and whenever he’s been introduced for Chiefs you get that excitement that now I’m gonna watch good football, not showboating but running with the ball and taking players on, and that’s the profile of a Chiefs player,” said the Chiefs legend.

“When you play with the left foot, you have to have magic and he’s got that but now he needs to be protected because he’s just walked into a world that can be kind but also very cruel.”

Tshabalala explained how the quality of academy graduates might go under the radar because of the club’s lack of direction and playing philosophy.

“The club has good talent but we won’t see how good they are in a system that’s not solid, it’s not even a system,” he said.

“At the beginning of last season, you had (Siyanda) Zwane, where is he now? We saw (Wandisile) Duba and then we don’t see him now, and there was Ngcobo before that, with Mfundo now and Mdu (Shabalala). That’s the talent they need to be protecting but it would become easier if they had a system and a structure.”

Shabalala is playing his part in grooming youngsters and has played a big role in unearthing future stars as well, with Shabalala and Vilakazi discovered at his annual tournament.

He is also involved in aiding footballers with financial education alongside Nedbank, looking to buck a sad trend of players losing their livelihood after football.

“We (Shabba and Nedbank) try to have these conversations as much as we can to help the current and future players because this career is very short and there’s a lot that happens off the field and even after retirement, so it’s important we equip people with the right knowledge and skills as early as possible.”

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