...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
Embattled Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane faced physical assault and expressed his disappointment with his players following their 1-0 defeat to SuperSport United in the South African Premiership.
The loss eliminated Chiefs from qualifying for any CAF competitions in the upcoming season and sealed their fate of finishing no higher than fourth in the league.
Coach Zwane hit by a bottle:
During the match in Rustenburg, objects were thrown at Zwane and his players, resulting in the coach being struck beneath his eye.
He required medical attention, and the police escorted the team to safety, highlighting the deteriorating situation for the renowned Johannesburg club.
Zwane criticizes his players:
Before the assault, Zwane openly criticized his players, accusing them of lackluster performance and merely going through the motions.
He expressed frustration at conceding three points in a crucial match that could have secured CAF qualification, effectively shattering their hopes of ending the season on a positive note.
Mixed reactions from Chiefs supporters:
Following the incident, Chiefs supporters took to social media, expressing divided opinions about the coach.
While some called for his dismissal, others believed he deserved a second season in charge.
This polarization among the club’s fanbase reflects the mounting pressure on Zwane and the team.
Missed opportunities and defensive error:
Aside from the Premiership, Kaizer Chiefs had two chances to win trophies but failed in both the semi-finals of a knockout competition and the South African FA Cup.
Their defeat against SuperSport United was sealed when Gamphani Lungu of SuperSport scored after an error by Chiefs goalkeeper Brandon Petersen, five minutes before half-time.
Success for SuperSport and vindication for their coach:
SuperSport United’s victory secured them at least a third-place finish and a spot in African football, despite not having the financial backing or squad depth of Chiefs.
The triumph was particularly meaningful for their experienced coach, Gavin Hunt, who was fired by Kaizer Chiefs in 2021 after a brief tenure.
League standings and continental prospects:
Mamelodi Sundowns has already secured one of the two Champions League places for South Africa by winning a sixth consecutive league title.
Orlando Pirates and SuperSport are level on points, but Pirates have a superior goal difference.
The team finishing third will enter the CAF Confederation Cup, which offers lower financial rewards compared to the Champions League.
Relegation battle and play-off prospects:
At the bottom of the table, Maritzburg United, Chippa United, and Marumo Gallants are fighting to avoid relegation. Maritzburg faces a tough final fixture against Sundowns, while Chippa hosts Golden Arrows and Marumo visits Swallows.
The last-place team will be relegated, and the second-to-last team will participate in play-offs with two second-division sides for a Premiership spot.
The defeat to SuperSport United dashed Chiefs’ hopes of qualifying for CAF competitions and maintaining a higher league position.
The reactions from Chiefs supporters reflect the growing pressure on Zwane, as the club’s success has been elusive in recent seasons.
Conversely, SuperSport’s victory signifies the vindication of their coach, Gavin Hunt, who had previously been let go by Chiefs.