Amakhosi reached the Caf Champions League final due to a miserable campaign … do you remember anyone?
Although Kaizer Chiefs are solid outsiders to win their first Caf Champions League title on Saturday, when they face Al-Ahly in Casablanca, it is simply remarkable that they even reached the final.
Amakhosi reached the pinnacle on the back of a miserable campaign – at least in the interior – in which they struggled to send out some of the PSL’s lower sides, were humiliated in some big matches and never even threatened a title challenge do not have.
Admittedly, the club operates under a significant disadvantage – the ban on the registration of new players – which has caused a tired group to stagnate even further.
Gavin Hunt’s failure to adapt to the test conditions, and his inability to make his considerable noise to get the best out of an experienced squad, eventually led to him losing his job.
Stuart Baxter has arrived to take the helm, though he, even with his big pedigree, will be aware that Ahly is the strongest favorite to ensure Chiefs’ wait for silverware continues.
However, the Glamor Boys just need to look at the example of Chelsea to see how the most amazing success can be born from the most miserable disasters.
Both of the Blues’ biggest successes – the Champions League victories of 2012 and 2021 – come against the backdrop of terrible local seasons.
In the first place, Andre Villas-Boas was sacked for just nine months after a run of three wins in his previous twelve games.
However, his replacement – Roberto Di Matteo – was able to galvanize the group and lead a chiseled pensioner to UCL’s glory when they sent Bayern Munich into the final with penalties, and in the process became London’s first European winner.
Chelsea actually finished the 2011-12 Premier League season in sixth place – a whopping 25 points from eventual winners Manchester City – but all that mattered was that they won the biggest prize in the European match .
It has been a similar story for West Londoners in recent years; an inexperienced coach stood at the helm, had to struggle with a transfer ban, tried to adopt a modified style of play, clashed with senior players and eventually lost his job.
Defensively, Chelsea were sometimes gloomy under Frank Lampard, and although things were not perfect under Thomas Tuchel – do you remember the defeat by West Bromwich Albion? – they did gather to reach the final of the Champions League.
Earlier in the campaign, few would have given the Londoners too much of a chance to defeat Manchester City in the UCL showpiece, but they did so precisely by Tuchel’s arrival.
Can Chiefs take inspiration and write their own final chapter on Saturday for a tax campaign against Ahly?