JOHANNESBURG. — Gavin Hunt says it’s an honour to be named Kaizer Chiefs head coach.
The former SuperSport United and Wits mentor was handed the reigns on a three-year deal after the club parted ways with Ernst Middendorp in early September.
“It’s been an all of a sudden thing but I’m very privileged and honoured to be here,” he said yesterday.
He also revealed when the talks with the club began after the Glamour Boys were heavily linked with current Botswana coach, Adel Amrouche.
“Things only happened the last day or two. Sometimes in football, it’s all about timing.
“Obviously, our club (Wits) was sold and it was an opportunity, and as I’ve said, the last day or two, things have happened and I’ve very happy and excited to get working and see the capacity of the squad.”
Hunt will meet his new squad, which include Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat and Willard Katsande, next week as they begin their preparations for the 2020/21 season.
The new top-flight campaign starts next month.
“It was unfortunate when the previous coaching staff left, I think it was last week, but nothing had happened until the last day or two,’’ he said.
“It’s been very professionally handled by a very professional club.”
Hunt must get to work quickly to improve a squad who were 18 minutes away from winning the Absa Premiership title before Mamelodi Sundowns came from behind to snatch it.
“We need to make sure we can try and improve on last year. Last year, Ernst (Middendorp) and Shaun (Bartlett) did an unbelievable job with this squad of players and they were so unfortunate not to win.
“I really felt for them in the end but that’s football.
“But, hopefully, we can move on and try and improve the team. Try and improve the results and try and win a few trophies.”
With the board and fans hungry for success, Hunt knows just how big the job in front of him is.
“I really want to concentrate on the football side. I know commercially and everything around Kaizer Chiefs is huge.
“It’s really been an eye-opener for me today being here (Kaizer Chiefs village in Naturena) and seeing the set-up.
“But, for me, the most important thing is to concentrate on the pitch. Try and get a team that suits my eye, try and get a brand of football, and winning as well is important.
“And the club is hungry is for a little bit of success.
“It’s the most successful club in history but it’s been a few barren years and we need to turn it around.
“But, as I said, let me get out on the pitch, that’s where it counts. If we get that right, everything else will take care of itself.”
Things The New Coach Should Resolve
Can he get Khama Billiat flying again?
Billiat did net twice in his last two Absa Premiership games for Chiefs under Middendorp, but that was not quite enough to get them over the title line and it is safe to say that the Zimbabwean attacker has generally underwhelmed at Chiefs since joining from Mamelodi Sundowns in 2018. Just 12 goals in 60 appearances in all competitions is a poor return for a man who was so stellar in a Masandawana shirt. Billiat had his run-ins with Middendorp, and any new Chiefs coach will surely have to get the 30 year-old onside ahead of the new season.
The Itumeleng Khune conundrum
Itumeleng Khune is another player Chiefs could do with having fully fit and back to his best, though there is a question over whether the former Bafana Bafana captain and current Amakhosi skipper will ever return to his glory days.
Khune played the last two games of the season for Chiefs, when Daniel Akpeyi got injured, and signs of his glorious ball distribution were there but he also looked more than a little rusty. Akpeyi was a pleasant bonus for Chiefs this season, his superb displays meaning the side didn’t miss Khune too much. But will he be able to sustain that next season, or will the new coach have to get Khune back in the groove?
Living in the shadow of Sundowns
It’s hard, let’s be honest, for any coach to win trophies outside of Mamelodi Sundowns, the dominant side in the game by some distance, that have just captured a third league title in a row, and will seal a domestic treble if they beat Bloemfontein Celtic in Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final.
The pressure is on at Kaizer Chiefs to get trophies, but Sundowns are buying up a host more players right now, with their new signings set to only make them stronger next season! Gavin Hunt did well as Wits coach to compete with Sundowns, but still only won one league title, in 2017.
Will there be a similar understanding for a new man at Naturena, that fighting Pitso Mosimane’s amazing team is no easy task. The same understanding was certainly not given to Middendorp. — The Citizen.