Molefi Ntseki, the new head coach of Kaizer Chiefs, believes he is under pressure since he is not a “celebrity” ahead of the start of the South African Premiership season on Friday.
“If you are not a celebrity, people tend to think of you as being limited in terms of knowledge,” he told the City Press newspaper.
“It should be more of we wish you all the best being a South African coach in charge of a big team such as Kaizer Chiefs.”
But, pre-season defeats to Young Africans in Tanzania and Township Rollers in Botswana have raised concerns among supporters that the popular but struggling team did not make the right decision.
Ntseki was fired as South Africa’s coach after a loss to Sudan, which ended chances of qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
He later became the head of technical and youth development at Johannesburg’s Chiefs, winners of a record 53 national trophies and one of the most recognisable brands in African club football.
Following eight seasons without a championship, the Chiefs relegated head coach Arthur Zwane to the job of assistant coach two months ago and elevated Ntseki.
Several Chiefs fans were surprised since they expected Tunisian Nasreddine Nabi, coach of 2023 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up Young Africans, to be appointed.
Nabi allegedly wanted to bring his own technical backroom team, but Chiefs insisted on him working with Zwane, a former Chiefs star winger.
Ntseki is excited as the Chiefs prepare to face perennial strugglers Chippa United in the first round of Africa’s richest national league on Sunday.
“There is something special coming as long as we are confident and have belief. This is the time for a revival,” he says.
“But winning trophies is not only about me — it is about the staff, the club, the supporters and the players.”
Last season, the Chiefs struggled with a shortage of reliable goal scorers, with the squad scoring just 32 times in 30 league games, while Zwane frequently lamented “lost chances.”
Burundian Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana led the Chiefs in Premiership scoring with seven goals, however he faded after a promising start to his first season with the club.
The inability to score against Young Africans or Rollers implies that the problem has not been resolved as the new league season approaches.
Playing in Tanzania and Botswana did not sit well with some Chiefs fans, who pointed out that 2023 champions Mamelodi Sundowns and runners-up Orlando Pirates also trained in Europe.