Kaizer Chiefs this week handed new contracts to four players aged between 32 and 34 years old and regardless of what happens in their title challenge this term, fresh signings are needed in the off-season.
With the new this week that Kaizer Chiefs have handed contract extensions to veterans Bernard Parker (33 years old), Willard Katsande (34) and Daniel Akpeyi (33), as well as strong speculation that Itumeleng Khune (32) has also renewed for a further two years, it leaves the club with three more players’ futures to secure.
Chiefs’ contracts expiring
All of George Maluleka (31), Daniel Cardoso (31) and Leonardo Castro (30) are entering the final months of their contracts and will likely be engaged to renew in coming weeks.
There can be no doubt that having these experienced players in their ranks has been a large reason for the club’s sudden metamorphosis from low-scoring seven-place finishers into free-scoring title contenders. With the addition of Samir Nurkovic and full pre-season under Ernst Middendorp, every last drop is being eked out of these older players this time around.
Amakhosi look very likely to be playing CAF Champions League football next season (assuming they finish their campaign in the top two places) and having those well-travelled legs in their squad will be crucial.
However, this is not a young Chiefs team. Aside from the above mentioned players, they will see Erick Mathoho, Rama Mphahlele and Khama Billiat turn 30 by the time next season is underway. Beneath this large group of veterans are some promising young players, no doubt, in Njabulo Blom, Happy Mashiane, Siyabonga Ngezana and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo. However, only Ngezana has shown himself to be PSL standard at this stage and the other three are still very raw.
What the club needs is to add some more players in the 22-27 age group who already have PSL experience to supplement the likes of Reeve Frosler, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya and Dumisani Zuma. If they rest on their laurels after this season, they could find almost an entire squad is suddenly over the hill at the same time.
They also say that the best time to sign players is when you are doing well and in a position of strength and not in a reactive way which could lead to a period of transition and, therefore, Chiefs again dropping out of the title running in coming years.
Some of the players they could look at could include Siyethemba Sithebe, Siphelele Luthuli or Goodman Mosele in central midfield (a particularly old area), Rushine De Reuck or Taariq Fielies in defence, and Lesedi Kapinga or Menzi Masuku in attacking areas.
On the evidence of Chiefs’ recent transfer windows, little money is likely to be spent though and they probably won’t sign more than a couple of players to freshen up an ageing squad. Whilst this season’s incredible turnaround is most welcome, it may also have the effect of postponing the overhaul that the club so desperately needs.
Don’t be surprised to see Kaizer Chiefs struggle next season, regardless of how they end this campaign.