MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE | Chiefs have made a powerful statement of intent by hiring Nasreddine Nabi

Kaizer Chiefs have announced Nasreddine Nabi as head coach.
Kaizer Chiefs have announced Nasreddine Nabi as head coach.
Image: Djaffar Lakjal/BackpagePix

By appointing Nasreddine Nabi, Kaizer Chiefs have made a strong statement of intent.

After coaching appointments that went wrong over the past few years, Amakhosi management have gone for Nabi, who arrives at the club with a significant continental reputation.  

It is a powerful statement of intent by Kaizer Chiefs.

The 58-year-old Tunisian has coached big teams on the continent including Al-Ahli Benghazi of Libya, Al-Hilal of Sudan, Ismaily of Egypt, Al-Merrikh SC of Sudan, Young Africans SC of Tanzania and FAR Rabat of Morocco. 

Over the past few years, Chiefs have disintegrated into mediocrity and that is largely because of coaching appointments such as Giovanni Solinas, Ernst Middendorp, Gavin Hunt, Arthur Zwane, Stuart Baxter, Arthur Zwane, Molefi Ntseki and Cavin Johnson which backfired spectacularly. 

The coaches failed to inspire the great club to another level, but finally they have hired a coach with a good reputation, and he has largely been welcomed by their hard-to-please supporters.  

Intentions are clear and good but it must be remembered that as Nabi rolls his sleeves up at their preseason camp in Türkiye, he may not have the magic wand to turn things around quickly. 

You can’t rule out the possibility of Nabi becoming an instant success at Naturena, but if it turns out things takes time to work out, Amakhosi fans will have to show patience. 

Nabi is a no-nonsense coach and his tough disciplinarian approach may be the right tonic Chiefs need at this crucial juncture because standards at the club have dropped to the floor. 

I am fully aware that at a big club like Chiefs, a coach or player must hit the ground running because of massive expectations, but immediate miracles from Nabi may be a bit unreasonable.  

The man comes highly recommended, having won the Tanzanian Premier League on two occasions and reached the Confederation Cup final with Young Africans, who have a massive following in Tanzania. 

Young Africans is a big club in Tanzania but Nabi is going to find a different beast in Chiefs, whose plethora of fanatical supporters have been starved of success for a long time. 

There is massive pressure at Chiefs because they have not won a trophy in almost 10 years and are on the back foot because they are going to miss out on the MTN8. 

Amakhosi suffered the ultimate embarrassment last season as they finished in 10th spot and failed to qualify for the MTN8 tournament and this means Nabi has the DStv Premiership, Carling Black Label Cup and Nedbank Cup to win any silverware. 

Nabi's assistant coach Fernando Da Cruz and goalkeeper coach Ilyes Mzoughi have been installed and it remains to be seen how players are going to respond because they are key to the turnaround strategy. 

When a new coaching regime takes over at a club, players usually respond positively to impress the new coach, and this is what is likely to happen during their training camp in Türkiye.

As Chiefs continued to struggle, there have been question marks about the quality of some of the players at the club. 

There are notable interesting players on the market such as Bongani Zungu and Gaston Sirino, who were released by Mamelodi Sundowns, and Kermit Erasmus and Vincent Pule, released by Pirates. 

If there are no significant arrivals, Nabi and his assistants will be faced with a tough job of getting the best out of the players they have who will have to unshackle the burden of previous failures. 

Chiefs have players such as Bruce Bvuma, Given Msimango, Reeve Frosler, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, Edson Castillo, Samkelo Zwane, Mfundo Vilakazi, Mduduzi Shabalala, Pule Mmodi, Christian Saile and Ranga Chivaviro who can improve with better coaching. 

Sundowns, even though they have been disrupted by the departure of former coach Rulani Mokwena, will be strong again as they target a record-extending and eighth successive league title. 

Pirates, who have made a few interesting moves in the transfer market, are stable under coach Jose Riveiro and with more consistency they will have what it takes to compete for the league. 

Then you have the likes of Stellenbosch, SuperSport United, Sekhukhune United and Cape Town City, who will again make it difficult for opposition and they will be fighting for places in the top half of the table. 

Chiefs will have to overcome the mediocrity that has engulfed them for many years and embrace change that comes with Nabi to build a strong team to challenge Sundowns, Pirates and Stellenbosch. 

By appointing Nabi, they have made the right move but that doesn’t mean the Tunisian has a magic wand to bring back the glory days. 


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