Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Great Amakhosi captaincy saga: Why Bobby Motaung should prepare his CV.

“Everything we do is in order. If there is a baby crying in the house, it does not mean there are issues between the father and the mother. The issue of the captain does not mean that there is a crisis at the club. This chapter must be closed.”

With those words, Bobby Motaung probably thought he was drawing the great Kaizer Chiefs captaincy saga to a graceful conclusion.

The Amakhosi’s “football manager” is deluded of course. But that’s what happens when you’re the son of the Amakhosi’s founder, when your sister Jessica runs the marketing side of the nation’s biggest club and your currently-injured brother Kaizer Junior – arguably a better cricketer than footballer in his youth - is on the physio’s couch waiting to return to the lead role.

In fact, if you’re a Motaung, it must be hard to keep a grip on reality 41 years after the heroic Kaizer returned from the United States and took South African football by storm.

That Kaizer Motaung is a footballing colossus is not in dispute. That Tshintsha Guluva (rough translation: Confounder of Defenders) was unearthed as a 16-year-old prodigy by Orlando Pirates at the tender age of 16 is fact. That former West Ham star Phil Woosnam spotted him playing in Zambia in 1968 and took him to Atlanta Chiefs where he became a US All Star is the stuff of South African soccer history.

The question is : can the 67-year-old entrust the running of the club he established in 1970 to his children and still count on the unquestioning support of an estimated 14 million Amakhosi ?

Two weeks ago, when Chiefs captain Jimmy Tau was reported to have resigned the captaincy, Bobby told Robert Marawa’s excellent Discovery Sports Centre show on Metro FM that there was no problem, Jimmy was still the captain, he had NOT had a row with coach Vladimir Vermezovic and that “everything is normal. There is no story here”.

After the listless Telkom Knockout defeat against Platinum Stars over the weekend, an under-pressure VV emerged to tell us Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune would be elevated to the captaincy.

But just last season, the 24-year-old Khune admitted: “I'm still young and certainly not ready to be a captain. I still need two more seasons or so before I can say I'm ready. Right now, I joke around with everyone from youngsters to senior players.

“Now can you imagine if I come to training and start dishing out instructions to the very same youngsters I was joking with? They will think I'm mad because I was joking with them a few seconds ago. So for the next two years I need to cut down on the joking and playful ways before I can say I'm ready to be a Chiefs captain,”

Months later, Khune is the new on-field leader of the Amakhosi. Backed by a gathering of “four captains” available to the Amakhosi. Tau’s name is not among them. Distrust, disbelief, dissonance reign supreme. The club appear to be running rough-shod over the truth, with their faithful millions left to guess the reality.

Just what happened to Tau? Why Khune? On Monday, Tinashe Nengomasha, the teak-tough Zimbabwean, was appointed captain. A mere 24 hours later, Khune was installed, though he did not feature in VV’s “four captains”: Kaizer Junior, George Lebese, Nengomasha and Tlou Molekwane.

Now I am reliably informed Nengomasha will “probably” captain Chiefs in the League game against Platinum Stars this weekend as Khune needs another two weeks to recover from an untimely bout of pneumonia.

The club said the Khune decision had been taken after consultations between VV, his technical team and club management. No mention was made of Khune’s admission that he was too young for the job for at least another two years. Nor of his current ailment.

Last season Chiefs, winners of 78 trophies in those incredible 41 years since the Kaizer from Orlando East came home, saw arch-rivals Pirates win an unprecedented treble. In pre-season, Pirates picked up the Carling Black Label Cup to further upset their Sowetan rivals, ironically on the back of a glaring Khune penalty shoot-out miss. Some say you can still see his spot-kick in orbit over Johannesburg.

This season Chiefs are already out of two cups and adrift in the title race, questions are rightly being asked.

So Bobby stepped up to the plate at the club’s high-tension press conference on Wednesday and told us Khune was the right choice, that everything was running fine, that there had never been any dispute with Tau. He told us: "We have deliberated on this issue and where the story came from. But it is normal to have internal issues and where a player might disagree. Jimmy is just one of the 27 players in the club and available to do duty when called upon by the coach. He is contracted to Kaizer Chiefs."

Then Bobby produced his trump card. His surname.

With these words he destroyed any scrap of credibility he had left: “As for those who dream that Bobby Motaung must step down, that Bobby Motaung must go, it is a dream! Bobby Motaung goes nowhere. I was not appointed by ANC or IFP… I will be here as long as this company exists.

“I did not apply for this job, I did not submit a CV. My father invested his life in this club, this is a family business. You must understand that. We are all working to ensure Chiefs dominate.”

Yup. Like the school bully with the headmaster father. The wayward prince with the elderly regent as his protector. Nepotism at its worst. While the thousands of Kaizer Chiefs fans fork out their hard-earned clash to follow their team and buy the new gold-and-black striped “zebra” kit, the Motaung family are apparently impervious to outside pressure.

It can’t be right. Clearly, there was substance to the Tau story. And it’s plain Khune is being forced to take the captain’s armband with Kaizer Junior waiting in the wings to take charge when he’s fit. Not a bad choice, but increasingly difficult to sell to the success-hungry Amakhosi hordes.

Bobby went on to say: "We have lost two cups already and we are worried about that, and now we have to fight for the league and the remaining cup.”

With Platinum Stars back on the agenda in a league clash this weekend, he ended with: "Our message to our supporters is that let us give the coach a chance."

Your supporters? That faithful bunch who continually talk about Amakhosi rising to the occasion? Without the finger-waving millions, Bobby, Kaizer Chiefs would be nothing. The same can be said of every professional football club.

And if I were you, I’d be looking very carefully at this quote from VV on Wednesday when he was asked why the excellent Siphiwe Tshabalala was not considered for leadership: "Tshabalala still wants to go overseas. If you make him captain and then he leaves in January then what do you do?"

No fans, no Tshabalala, no club. Start preparing that CV, Bobby. Next time, you may need it.


  1. Brilliant piece Neal! Brilliant brilliant, that's all I have to say

  2. I was at the presser yesterday and the arrogance that Bobby has is sad - his comments about the family business also gives little respect to the fans who are in the bigger scheme of things the ones who make Chiefs what it is.

  3. Thanks for your comments guys... Lenn, it's important to point out I admire what Kaizer has done, how he got where he got... but I fear he may lose popular support if things carry on the way they did yesterday. Anybody who stands up and boasts about not submitting a CV to get a job with daddy's company is a flawed human being. Kaizer must act, sort a few things out. Reassure his estimated 14million fans. Rise Amakhosi, rise!

  4. Absolutly brilliant article Neal, very spot on. Maybe the chairman should look to running the club in the same way as clubs in the EPL are run (well, some of them) based on qualification and competence not on family lines.

  5. Neal i jst quited arleady, Bobby told us to distance ourselves from chiefs only family is allowed in dat team now i see my self as a useless supporter, they simple dnt need us, Bobby and his family mst fill the stadiums!

  6. What a joke! Nicely done Neal. Bobby will run his father's work to the ground. Fans don't seem to be as NB. Keep number happy and all is glory.


  7. Wondered when you'd add your two penneth Ms Nokwe... lots of angry Amakhosi fans out there over this. Will Bobby retract? Will Kaizer have a word? Both I hope.
    Talk of boycotting weekend game...

  8. I'm sadly left gutted and in tears. My KC Gold Membership Card expires on the 27th of next month and unless Kaizer interrvenes and acts swiftly, I'm not renewing! I'm even prepared to lose my seat in the executive committee in the branch I serve in. Good thing I adopted Wits and Swallows last season and have been closely following and attending their games. As faith would have it, I enquired about Wits membership last month out of curiosity and after yesterday's boastful and arrogant utterings, I'm following up on my New Membership. I value all my relationships and my loyalty is never questioned. Thanks to Bobby I don't know where I stand with this relationship I have with his family business. I have had countless run-ins with my family for the love of this team, the very same family business I supported for the last 28 yrs from the tender age of 7....

  9. Botsotso, have just copied your comments on to Facebook and Twitter. So well put. Thanks. Keep them coming. It's the only way we blogging journalists can assess whether we've got it right.

  10. Sad to see such a club with the stature of Kaizer Chiefs subjected to this farcical circus. Does Kaizer Snr have any authority at the club now or is he a mere figurehead?

    But hang on a minute. Is this actually a moment of genius that we are witnessing? Is Bobby taking a leaf out of the Sir Alex Ferguson book of deflecting media attention away from averagely-performing players?

    Unfortunately not. His behaviour has helped put the spotlight (and extra pressure) on certain players, which is not the sign of good management. I wish Khune all the best though.

  11. On another note, why do Chiefs have different levels of supporter membership? Is it because the richer supporters are more important...?

  12. Gr8 piece on my club. i would ask Bobsteak what is a difference between a club and team. he is incharge of the team not the club. the club encampasses us te fans who will spend money for tickets to a chiefs game. he ought to respect us please.

  13. Of course we angry. Thats what being a true supporter is (not all) about. We've been faithful to this CLUB (emphasis on club because as Mabheka mentioned - club involves more than the 11 men on the field) since some of us were knee high...though someone who bought his first Chiefs cap only yesterday still deserve a dignified treament.

    I'm no member by the payment definition, but I fill the stands whenever I can. Therefore do not deserve this nonsense. This is the time for the Snr Motaung to save face and show us, the club that he is still has a voice that his kids respond to.... and he needs to do it FAST!

  14. Marc, love the Sir Alex Deflection idea, Kate, spot on as always. Hear what you're saying Mabheka. Starting to get anonymous calls on my phone now, so I guess it's riled somebody. But if you go back through you'll find I'm not anti anybody or anything. Just write what I see.

  15. Its actually unbelievable that chiefs journalist forces things to try and find reason to talk about the failing brand...The wise usually say that "... History remembers the winners..." But clearly this is not the case here... Its clear that "...Hiustory remembers what the writers of history wants to remember..."
    History should remember that Platinum Stars beat Chiefs for the Quaterfinal spot in the Telkom Knock Out, Not some invaluable replacement of a mediocre Captain with an Oscar award winning Actor on the football pitch...

    clearly Bureaucracy is at its lowest level,
    I thought when Primedia sold its shares of Chiefs, that would be reason enough to write of a Big Media company showing a vote of no confidence in the maladmin at Chiefs...
    Write about current winners, not some ancient times winners...

    collins, surely you can not drag the journalism profession in the mud like this, just as your friend Robert Marawa has forever had an agenda against Dr Irvin Khoza and Pirates...

    Surely you not suckling from the same poisonous bottle,
    Your Friend Robert Marawa, The Chief information Officer of the so called Football Federation has turned the South African Football Association into South African Fools Association, making fools of the nation, misleading the nation to think that the nation has qualified,

    OBJECTIVITY is key in Commentating about Football.

  16. Nc,nc,nc if you are being serious about the threatening phone calls, be very scared because rumour has it that Bobby rolls in the mafia circles (check Mbombela stadium shenanigans).

    Great piece of a blog though!!!

  17. Great piece Neal and you could make a book out of this Bobby,Vlad V saga and millions of South African soccer lovers could flock to CNA to get themselves book.

  18. Kaizer is becoming like Dr. Nelson Mandela watching their hard fought liberation movement (Kaizer liberated from poverty) being dragged to sink by reckless people within.

  19. Hhawu, and then whats eating @ralph.Do you have a chip on your shoulder or what sir, going off tangents by attacking Marawa and not sticking to the topic at hand really sullies the good points u made in your comments second paragraph.

    By the way, SAFA are fools, look at the recent Bafana Bafana unqualification for the Afcon- their appealing this weak & NOT appealing next week- their a joke!

  20. I wouldn't b suprised if a certain spoilt brat takes this personnaly, really pissed off at what Bobby said yesterday that i and my strong group of 8 are boycotting the remainder of the season regardless of any apology.. that man must step down and a proper Football Manager must be appointed.. Not renewing my membership either until Bobby goes.. Mayb we need to march to Naturena and deliver a memo demanding his resignation. We will see who is more important loyal supporters or clueless son.. Great analysis Neal and glad the silenced fans of the country's football have a sensible voice.. Thats why Primedia was kicked out because they would not tolerate this level of incompetence

  21. Bobby motaung is just an asshole whomdoesnt understand that this kaizer chiefs of his father is our hearts so when ever it losses we lose deep in our soul. For the record he must never again speak like that with Kaizer cause that is our team

  22. Raphaelo surely Kaizer's apology - which I'm about to write about on this site - suggests I was right to raise the issue. Fans were coming on in huge numbers saying they were going to abandon Chiefs over Bobby's nepotism and clumsiness. I believe Kaizer has settled this thing. Remember, I have no axe to grind. I support neither Chiefs nor Pirates, my only bias in South African football was towards the now-defunct 1985 South African champions Umlazi Bush Bucks, run by Lawrence "Big Bear" Ngubane, and their sensational captain Mlungisi "Prof" Ngubane. I write what I see, how I see it. Bobby was wrong, Kaizer is right. Personal abuse and strange phone calls in the middle of the night won't change that!

  23. Now read today's blog. Kaizer apologises and 14 million Chiefs fans breathe a sigh of relief: