Following a highly successful season in which Kaizer Chiefs reclaimed the Absa Premiership title, changes are afoot as the club seeks to freshen its playing squad and technical staff in readiness for the defence of the title in the upcoming 2015/16 season. At a press conference on Tuesday, Amakhosi chairman Kaizer Motaung shed some light on what has been going on behind the scenes at Naturena over the past few weeks. Motaung says: ‘The club enjoyed a phenomenal campaign in 2014/15 and I would like to congratulate and thank everyone that contributed to making this one of the most unforgettable seasons in the club’s illustrious history. From top to bottom, we rewrote the PSL record books with the highest number of points, the biggest win margin over the runners-up, the highest average points per game and a record 19 clean sheets, feats that have raised the bar in domestic football. However, Kaizer Chiefs has never been a club that is satisfied with resting on success and our aim is to improve on what we achieved this past season. Football is not a static game and there is always room for progress. So, while some familiar faces will no longer be with us, we believe our fans will be very excited by some of the new faces that will be in the Gold and Black next season.’
On the issue of coach Stuart Baxter’s departure, Motaung commented: ‘We sat down with the coach and we had a long discussion on the way forward. He expressed his desire to move on to bigger challenges after having just completed a historic and successful three seasons with us. We parted amicably. Regarding his replacement, we will throw the net far and wide in our search to find the right coach. Once we have found him, we will make an announcement.’ The chairman also paid tribute to two stalwarts, Josta Dladla and Siyabonga Nkosi, who were both released after their respective contracts expired. Motaung says: ‘Josta and Siyabonga have served Kaizer Chiefs with honour and distinction, contributing to us winning numerous trophies. However, neither has played a lot this season and they are getting on with age. It’s sad, but sometimes, as a club, you have to take tough decisions. That’s why we decided to go forward without them. We need to look as well to the future, needing to invest in younger players.’
When asked about the Itumeleng Khune contract saga, which has been dragging for months, the chairman revealed that despite their best efforts, the parties were ultimately unable to find common ground: ‘We have been trying for almost a year to negotiate a new contract with Khune. But we couldn’t agree on terms. There comes a time when it’s best to go our separate ways. Khune has done brilliantly with us. However, he obviously felt that it was time to make a move to greener pastures. We wish him all the best in the future.’ The futures of other Bafana Bafana stars such as Mandla Masango, Tefu Mashamaite, Katlego Mphela and Erick Mathoho were also clarified by the chairman. Motaung says: ‘We offered Mandla a new contract, which he didn’t accept. Instead, Mandla asked to be released and that’s what we decided to agree on. We also wish him all the best. Unfortunately, our negotiations with Tefu proved unsuccessful and he is on his way out too. Katlego was called into a disciplinary hearing last week for failing to attend a number of important events. It was agreed to part ways.’
Mathoho on the other hand remains key to Amakhosi’s future plans and will not be going anywhere as the club has not been approached for his services. Motaung says; ‘Tower is a highly valuable member of the team and will be staying at the club. He still has two years left on his contract.’ A number of players have also been earmarked to go out on loan in order to gain further experience.
Phakamani Mngadi will go back to Belgium side AS Eupen, where he spent last season. Others in line to be farmed out are Ovidy Karuru, Simphiwe Mtsweni, Zitha Macheke, Chris Matombo and Levy Mokgothu. Motaung says: ‘We had great expectations when Phakamani arrived. However, it has not worked out as we had hoped and it has been decided to loan him back to his Belgium club for another year. A few other players might also go on loan because it is always important that players get game time in order to improve. Our up and coming youngsters in particular need to gain this experience.’
Finally, when pressed on possible new signings at the club, Motaung responded: ‘The players will return from holiday on 18 June for testing. Thereafter, we shall confirm all the new signings for the 2015/2016 season. We can’t divulge this information now, as we are still negotiating with some exciting young talents, while some others are at present still under contract of their current club.’ In closing, Motaung said: ‘We would like to thank the players and the coach for their contribution to our success and we will ensure that we reinforce the team and ready to compete fiercely in the new season.’
Photo: Stuart Baxter and Tefu Mashamaite are on their way out of Kaizer Chiefs
Photo credit: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix