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Transition, injuries and transfer restrictions - Hunt needs time at Chiefs

Gavin Hunt, coach of Kaizer Chiefs
(Image credit: Backpagepix)

After a poor start to the season, losing 3-0 to both Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, the hierarchy at Kaizer Chiefs has no choice but to be patient with Gavin Hunt due to the circumstances facing him at Naturena, writes DEAN WORKMAN.

Hunt may have taken over at a team pipped to the title by Sundowns on the last day of the season, but was not allowed to strengthen his squad due to the Fifa transfer ban on the club, which was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after a Chiefs appeal.

The club's two-window transfer ban, handed down in February 2020, has been well documented with Fifa ruling the club illegally signed Andriamirado 'Dax' Andrianarimanana in 2018 from Malagasy club Fosa Juniors, which lodged a complaint to the world football governing body stating that Chiefs didn’t justifiably compensate them for the player's transfer.

While Chiefs have been battling to get that ban overturned, which was eventually denied, their rivals have been strengthening.

Both Sundowns and Pirates have been able to take advantage of the fire sale at the now-defunct Bidvest Wits, acquiring several players who no doubt would have been Chiefs targets had they been able to make signings.

While former Clever Boys trio Brandon Petersen, Sifiso Hlanti and Phathutshedzo Nange have been training at Chiefs, they all now look set for short-term deals elsewhere while waiting for the transfer ban to elapse – which is not quite helpful in the short term, though.

The four-time league winning coach now knows the squad which he will have at his disposal for the 2020-21 campaign, but it will take time for the players to adapt to the coach’s ideas.

Hunt is renowned for getting the best out of his players and he certainly has a team capable of turning into title challengers, but he will need to figure out his strongest side and hope his players quickly adapt.

The return of last season’s top-scorer, Smair Nurkovic, will go a long way to resolving the club's issues in front of goal, but it is also their defensive structure which needs fixing.

Philani Zulu has been converted into a left back by Hunt at the start of the season, clearly earmarking him for that role this season. The return of Eric Mathoho and Siyabonga Ngezana will also add to Hunt’s defensive options but, again, they will need time to gel.

Losing 3-0 to two of your fiercest rivals within the opening three games is hardly the best start for a club the size of Chiefs, but the club’s hierarchy and fanbase need to have faith and show patience with Hunt as his circumstances are challenging.

An early-season coaching change would only set back Chiefs further, and there is probably no other coach out there with the experience and know-how in the PSL to steer Chiefs clear of these daunting times.