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Kaizer Chiefs’ appointment last week of Cavin Johnson as head of their academy is a visionary move. The 64-year-old Johnson has a long, successful history in youth development that will stand Amakhosi in good stead as they seek to revive their stature as serial winners.

Chiefs will be hoping Johnson replicates his successful stints at the School of Excellence, Ajax Cape Town, Mamelodi Sundowns and the Royal Bafokeng Sports Academy where he mentored the likes of Steven Pienaar, Brett Evans, Dominic Isaacs, Dillon Sheppard, Shaun Potgieter, Abbubaker Mobara, Kobamelo Kodisang, Gift Links and Sibusiso Mabaliso, among many others.

Johnson also successfully made the step up to the head coaching role, helping Platinum Stars to a runners-up spot, just one point behind Stuart Baxter’s Chiefs side who claimed the third of their four PSL titles in the 2012/13 season. He also had stints with SuperSport United and AmaZulu before moving to Cairo to join Pitso Mosimane as assistant coach at Egyptian giants Al Ahly in October 2020. 

Since his return to SA in November 2021, Johnson has kept a low profile, helping second-tier La Masia in an advisory capacity. He turned down an offer to join long-time friend Miguel Gamondi at Tanzanian giants Young Africans, opting instead to take up the challenge closer to home at Chiefs. During his time as Sundowns’ head of youth development, Johnson worked with Gamondi who, with Neil Tovey, guided Sundowns to the 2005/06 league title. 

Having completed coaching courses in Brazil and the Netherlands where he spent time drinking from the immense fountains of knowledge emanating from the football brains of Louis van Gaal and the legendary Johan Cruyff, Johnson is eminently qualified to take the Chiefs academy to new levels, providing a much-needed reservoir of top-quality talent for the senior team.

There is, of course, also the lingering suspicion that the man credited by former Bafana Bafana star Pienaar as having a major influence in his formative years as a footballer, is already warming up on the touchline, ready to replace head coach Molefi Ntseki should a change be deemed necessary. 

Irate fans

The position of the former Bafana coach, who took over from Arthur Zwane before the start of this season, has come under scrutiny after Chiefs’ rocky start to his tenure in what has to be the hottest coaching seat in the country. Ntseki himself moved up from his job as head of the Chiefs academy so he could be forgiven if he was nervously looking over his shoulder. 

Irate and undisciplined Amakhosi fans have already made their displeasure over Ntseki’s appointment known after the defeats against TS Galaxy and SuperSport United, heaping the pressure on the coach to start delivering results swiftly. 

The Chiefs management will do well though not to heed the irrational outbursts of a minority of hotheads. The hierarchy have no option but to back their coach. They should remember why they appointed the former schoolteacher in the first place and give him the time and support he needs to put his stamp on the side. 

Ntseki might have inched a step closer to winning over his doubters had his team not been at the wrong end of a poor refereeing decision in Saturday’s MTN8 second leg semifinal tie against Mamelodi Sundowns.

His team was clearly denied a chance having a shot at ending their frustrating eight-year silverware drought when the referee somehow decided not to award a clear penalty in the closing stages of a closely fought encounter in which Chiefs more than held their own.

The Glamour Boys should have had the chance to secure a 2-2 draw that would have booked them a place in next Saturday’s final against Orlando Pirates. And ending the silverware drought with a win over the old enemy would have banked Ntseki huge credit with the fans. 

With the spilt milk from the MTN8 semifinal already well and truly rotten by now, Ntseki simply has to pick up victories in his team’s next two league games that could be very tricky — at home to Sekhukhune United (who did the double over them last season) and Cape Town City (who have won their last three league encounters against Chiefs) — if he is to release the pressure that seems to be cranking up after every game that isn’t won. 

Ntseki is on unstable ground and the only way he can move to a firmer footing is by putting together a winning run to win over his doubters and justify his position as head coach of the country’s most popular team. 

If the results don’t come soon and consistently, it would come as no surprise if Johnson is asked to swap offices with his predecessor in what would be a eye-popping eighth coaching change in the past five-and-a-half years.

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