DREAMING OF RAIN
Molefi Ntseki believes he can finally guide Kaizer Chiefs to the promised land of silverware
The Carling Knockout Cup — a new competition by the Premier Soccer League — presents Kaizer Chiefs with yet another opportunity to try and snap its long-standing hardware drought. A barren run that stretches back to 2015.
He is no Martin Luther King Jr. However, Molefi Ntseki has a dream that, one day, he will end Kaizer Chiefs’ long-standing trophy drought. Which is well into its eighth year now and fast approaching year nine.
The Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) newly launched cup competition, christened the Carling Knockout Cup, presents Amakhosi with yet another opportunity to finally reach the promised land.
To sip from the elusive fountain of silverware success and finally quench their thirst for hardware which dates back to mid-2015.
To do this, they must navigate past a tricky AmaZulu outfit in the last 16 of the new competition. The clash is at 6pm at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
New broom, new dreams
The Telkom Knockout was one of three cup competitions played by DStv Premiership sides, alongside the MTN8 and the Nedbank Cup. During Covid-19, pandemic it ceased to exist as Telkom pulled out as a sponsor – citing financial constraints induced by the prevailing conditions at the time.
After scrapping the tournament prior to the start of the 2020/2021 season, the PSL hierarchy had been in search of a new sponsor to bring the competition back from the dead. Up stepped Carling Black Label to finally fill the void.
With Orlando Pirates winning the MTN8 already this season — a tournament in which Chiefs were eliminated in the semifinals by Mamelodi Sundowns — this new iteration of the Knockout Cup is another opportunity for Chiefs to roll the die and hope for the best.
Former Bafana Bafana coach Ntseki says he is not feeling added pressure, in spite of the weight of expectation resting on his shoulders.
He believes that his team is playing well, but has not been fortunate when it comes to obtaining the desired final results. To the ire of Amakhosi’s faithful.
Chiefs is one the most successful clubs in South African soccer history, and Ntseki is of the belief that to finally remove the dark cloud that is their barren trophy run, they must tap into the team’s decorated history since it was founded in 1970.
“The understanding we have is: Before the dark cloud what was there? And if the dark cloud is hanging over your head, how do you get rid or move away from the dark cloud? That is what we are doing currently,” Ntseki told Daily Maverick at the launch of Knockout Cup.
“We all know there wasn’t a dark cloud before. What worked for Chiefs [then]? We’re also looking more into the background, researching what worked for the club before the dark cloud you speak of. If there’s one, how do we evade it, how do we move away from this dark cloud? Preparation. Preparation. Preparation,” added the coach.
The Knockout Cup arrives with bags of money to offer teams, players and even supporters. All with hopes of reinvigorating dwindling interest in the local game.
The team that wins the final will pocket a handsome R6.6-million. The losing finalist will walk away with a useful R2.6-million for their unsuccessful effort.
Another exciting innovation meant to draw spectator interest in numbers, as well as encourage teams to push for the knockout punches early on is the Faka iGoli Uzobona innovation. Loosely translated as ‘score a goal and you’ll see.’
At the start of each match, there will be 90 minutes and R90,000 on the clock. For each minute that passes, R1,000 drops off with the potential prize money counting down to zero at the end of the match.
One fan who correctly predicts both the team and the minute of the first goal will win the money left on the clock. The team that scores that opening goal will also win the amount left on the clock when they score. The earlier the goal, the more everyone wins.
While some of the aforementioned announcements were welcomed, there was some concern around the one where the supporters are the ones who decide the player of the match through voting.
Especially when your team is playing against a Chiefs or a Pirates, two teams with the largest support bases in the country. Can they be unbiased and vote for the player who truly stood out during the game? Or will they be driven by emotions and vote for their own players?
“Even before the draw, the coaches were talking about this. That it will be a player from Chiefs, or from Orlando Pirates. It’s normal. They are the ones with the most supporters. So, they are going to be the ones with more advantage in terms of that,” AmaZulu mentor Pablo Franco Martin told journalists.
“In the end, it’s a pity that the player of the match is decided, not for football reasons. But on the other hand, it’s nice that the fans have the opportunity to be involved.”
Of course, with the prize money for being awarded the best player on the day being a whopping R100,000, the player that wins it will have no qualms on whether they’ve won it deservedly or not.
The winners of the Carling Knockout tournament will face a Carling All-Star team selected by the fans in the new format of the Carling Black Label Cup. That match is scheduled for January 2024. DM
Carling Knockout Cup fixtures
Friday, 20 October
Orlando Pirates vs Cape Town Spurs (7:30pm)
Saturday, 21 October
Golden Arrows vs Cape Town City (3pm)
Chippa United vs Stellenbosch (3pm)
Kaizer Chiefs vs AmaZulu (6pm)
Sekhukhune United vs Royal AM (8:15pm)
Sunday, 22 October
Richards Bay vs Moroka Swallows (3pm)
SuperSport United vs Polokwane City (6pm)