Chiefs’ back against the ropes as new coach goes AWOL
The once mighty Mochudi Centre Chiefs are in serious trouble.
The Kgatleng giants have managed just three wins from their 15 league fixtures this season, suffering back-to-back defeats since the resumption of the league after the Christmas break.
The four-time League Champions lost 0-1 to Orapa United over the weekend and were soundly beaten by Jwaneng Galaxy 1-3 in midweek, leaving them firmly rooted at the wrong end of the table.
Chiefs’ woes can be traced back to 2016 when the bruising battle for legitimacy between Society and Trust reached the courts of law.
The Society Chairman, Tsiang Ramocha challenged Ernest Molome’s status in the team’s hierarchy. At the time Molome was the Committee Chairperson, but at an Annual General Meeting held by the Society, Ramocha was declared the club’s Committee Chairperson.
Attempts to reconcile the warring factions bore no fruit and the Ramocha-led faction sought recourse from the High Court.
Perhaps due to the bad publicity the club were receiving over the ongoing case, multimillionaire and property magnate, Sayed Jamali, who was bankrolling the team, decided to cut the umbilical cord, leaving ‘Magosi’ with a huge wage bill and player contracts they could not fulfil.
Voice Sport interviewed some of the team’s legends in December 2016 (Trouble in the Kgatleng throne -The Voice 16 December) who aired their concerns about the turn of events.
Their worries turned out to be unerringly accurate.
Former striker Parker Mampori put the blame squarely on the administration’s shoulders. Mampori absolved the then coach Bongani Mafu of any blame. Mafu has since jumped ship to Orapa United and was watching from the stands as his new side overcame his former employers by a solitary goal.
“We cannot blame the coach, no coach in the world can get positive results with a demoralised squad,” said Mampori.
In what has turned out to be a prophetic statement by another legend, Fred Pheko, the defender told Voice Sports in that 2016 exclusive interview that if Chiefs did not put their house in order they risked losing players in the January transfer window.
“I was there when Chiefs faced similar problems in 2003, we nearly relegated as games ran out for us to save our season. I see a similar situation with the current impasse,” warned Pheko.
Legendary striker Ridwell Moremi who lined-up for Magosi in 1990-96 maintained that Chiefs’s problems were financial. Moremi said the departure of Jamali left the team with a wage bill of P2 million per month, which they simply could not deal with.
Moremi, who was the club’s Treasurer in 2003, is back in familiar territory in the new committee. Talking to Voice Sport in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Galaxy, the newly-elected Treasurer said he was worried that if they don’t act quickly the ship may sink.
“We just lost another match, and it hurts. My worry is our next fixture is against the in-form Gaborone United and we can’t afford to lose that match,” said the emotional Moremi.
“I think first we need to accept the situation we find ourselves in. We seem to be in denial but the truth is we don’t have money.
“I think we made a mistake by bringing in a high profile coach like Kinnah Phiri who comes with a hefty price tag,” he continued.
The treasurer at the embattled Chiefs told Voice Sport that he suspects the Malawian coach might be having second thoughts about his move to Chiefs.
“He was supposed to have reported for duty on January 4th but he didn’t show up, we are still waiting for his arrival as his permit has been sorted,” he said.
The veteran striker turned administrator said the team needs to go back to the drawing board and discuss issues affecting them before it is too late.
“First we need to accept that we don’t have any money. We made a mistake by going for Phiri, we should have gone for a local whose mandate would have been to at least keep us in the top eight while we sort out our issues,” he said.
Moremi further said the court case between Ramocha’s team and the trust needs to be resolved quickly.
“We all stand to lose a club we love dearly. We need to come together and rebuild this club,” he implored, a hint of desperation creeping into his voice.
He was however hopeful that after a meeting with Bakgatla royal, Bana Sekai, scheduled for 10th February, they may find common ground.
Chiefs are no strangers to tough times. In 2001 they were hit by another mass exodus of players due to similar, money-related issues.
They lost Teenage Podile and Noah Stooge Kareng to Township Rollers. Defender Lovemore Mokgweetsi joined Mogoditshane Fighters while both Keitumetse Pio Paul and Seabo Gabanakgosi left for further studies.
It was little wonder that in following season Chiefs nearly relegated. Magosi pulled a Houdini in the promotional play-offs against then-relegated giants Gaborone United, Township Rollers and Jwaneng Comets.
They may just need another miracle to survive this season.