Like it happened when trophies used to elude Teko Modise, the word “curse” is again doing rounds on the South African football circles as many are starting to think Kaizer Chiefs’ never-ending struggle against lower division teams in the Nedbank Cup is equivalent to a bad spell of some sort.
Chiefs’ defeat to second tier side Richards Bay on Sunday that saw them bundled out of the Nedbank Cup was their fifth Ke Yona Cup loss at the hands of teams from lower ranks.
Amakhosi’s first ever humiliation by minnows came in 2009 when first division’s University of Pretoria beat them in the second round. A year later, Chiefs suffered a similar agony when FC Cape Town claimed their scalp via a 4-3 win in the first round.
In 2011, Baroka, a third tier side at the time, elbowed Chiefs out of the same cup, beating them 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Just two years ago, TS Galaxy, who were still in the second tier, outshone Amakhosi 1-0 in the final.
The persistence of this quirk has elicited opinions from some that Amakhosi are cursed in the Nedbank Cup, the trophy they’ve won once, in the 2012/13 season, since it was renamed in 2008.
However, Chiefs legend Zimbabwean Tinashe “General” Nengomasha, who spent a decade at Naturena, has scoffed at the notion that Chiefs are cursed against minnows, feeling the Amakhosi players always underestimate the so-called smaller teams, hence they get stunned. The erstwhile central midfielder was part of the Chiefs side who were stunned by AmaTuks, FC Cape Town and Baroka.
“Curse? No, no. I think Chiefs lose these games [against teams from lower leagues] because they underestimate those teams, whereas those teams come with that extra motivation and eagerness to show the world that in football name counts for nothing,” Nengomasha told Sowetan from Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
The 38-year-old midfielder recalled how they undermined Baroka in 2011. “I remember when we were going to face Baroka…we were sure that we will win. Our mentality was poor at the time, we just told ourselves that it was going to be easy,” Nengomasha reflected.
He added that the club must exercise patience on coach Gavin Hunt, highlighting he must be given time to buy his own players that he trusts who will challenge for the honours next season. “You can’t fire Hunt now because he’s using players he found there. We must start to judge him from next season. The bosses must be patient with him,” said Nengomasha. – The Sowetan