Amakhosi won their opening match of the season for the first time since the 2014./15 PSL season, and they already have big ambitions for the season
Kaizer Chiefs are the most successful team in the history of South African football given the number of major trophies (68) they have won since 1970, but they haven’t been at their best since 2015.
Earlier this week, attacking midfielder Dumisani Zuma said the team’s absence in this year’s MTN8 was a bitter pill to swallow but drew positives from it, saying it could possibly mean they would win the treble.
Amakhosi have three trophies to fight for this season – the PSL, the Telkom Knockout Cup, and the Nedbank Cup.
However, they haven’t won any of the abovementioned trophies in the four years since Stuart Baxter was in charge of the team.
Which trophies are Chiefs likely to win this season?
Chiefs’ best finish on the PSL table in the past three seasons was when they secured third spot in Steve Komphela’s final season in charge.
Before then they finished outside the top three twice, but last season proved to be their worst in years as they failed to make the Top 8.
It’s very difficult to jump from finishing ninth to winning the league the following season, and for Chiefs to achieve this, they will need a number of things to go their way.
A strong start to the campaign is essential as perennial PSL champions Sundowns are likely to set an intimdating points tally and falling behind early on in the season brings enormous pressure.
Amakhosi will also need to have a successful transfer window. For a team in a rebuilding phase, it is critical the right decisions are taken on which players to bring in, and which to let go. Rumours swirling around the future of attacker Khama Billiat will not help in this regard.
Injuries also play a role and Chiefs have been unlucky in this regard, especially between the sticks. When Kunle is fit and on form then the whole defence is more confident and solid.
Chiefs need their coach to take his knockout competition form and bring that to bear in the league – the German mentor hasn’t won a league title for any of the teams he has coached at a professional level.
And lastly, Middendorp also needs to figure out how to turn draws into wins. Last season Chiefs drew more matches (12) than they won (9) and his success at turning a potential stalemate into three points will determine whether Chiefs can sustain a real title challenge.
Telkom Knockout Cup
Amakhosi used to dominate the Telkom Knockout Cup and have a total of 13 titles under their belt. But their last win was in 2010 despite making the final in 2015 where they lost to eventual winners Mamelodi Sundowns.
That said, this is one competition that regularly proves league form matters not, and any team can win the trophy, just like Baroka did last season.
Chiefs may fancy their chances of winning this one and may target this competition as their main route to silverware to end their four-year wait for a trophy.
With knockout cup specialist Middendorp at the helm and many of Chiefs main rivals pre-occupied with continental competition, this could be the year for Amakhosi to stake their claim for one of domestic football’s most prestigious trophies.
Amakhosi reached the final last season but given their history against the so-called ‘smaller teams’, it would certainly not be wise to invest heavily on them winning the Nedbank Cup.
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Last season, Chiefs struggled against ABC Motsepe League teams in the early stages of the competition before cruising past fellow PSL teams in Cape Town City and Chippa United.
However, they were denied by NFD side TS Galaxy in the final to further demonstrate their struggles against minnows.
There are no guarantees Chiefs will find the winning formula to ease their recent struggles against lower league opposition but their fans will be hoping they can overcome this challenge to lift the trophy they last won in 2013.