Benjamin Leshoro11 March 2024 | 15:38

BENJAMIN LESHORO: Chiefs players are dwarfish thieves in giants’ robes

Chiefs has lost its aura. What's left now is a great name, and sorry shell of a once fearsome force in SA football, writes Benjamin Leshoro.

BENJAMIN LESHORO: Chiefs players are dwarfish thieves in giants’ robes

Kaizer Chiefs at half time in their match against Golden Arrows on 5 March 2024. Picture: X/@KaizerChiefs

It was in Shakespeare's Macbeth that Angus said in Act 5, Scene 2: "Now does he feel his secret murders sticking on his hands; Now, minutely, revolts upbraid his faith-breach; Those he commands move only in command, Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title hang loose about him, like a giant's robe upon a dwarfish thief".

In this comical simile, Angus explains how he imagines Macbeth must feel holding on to his ill-gotten title. He imagines him as a thief who has not only stolen the royal garments he so arrogantly flaunts, but also garments that are too big for him that they embarrassingly drag about the floor. He even mocks how those Macbeth is supposed to lead, have lost all respect for him as they don't believe he's the rightful owner of that title.

This piece of ancient literature fits so perfectly in modern day Kaizer Chiefs. Ironically, a club whose name also presupposes some royal lineage for those who get to sit on the throne.

In football terms, those are special players who have special abilities. Better at playing the game than most of their peers.

Imagine names like Patrick Ace Ntsoelengoe, Nelson Teenage Dladla, Marks Maponyane, Fani Madida, Isaac Shakes Kungwane, Thabo Mooki, Jabu Mahlangu (Pule), and Doctor Khumalo. When you think of those players, you think of Kaizer Chiefs. They are synonymous with the club. The reason is simple; they were star players. Fans went to stadiums to see them. They commanded respect then and continue to command respect beyond their days with the club.

Even in more recent times, players like Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and Itumeleng Khune show how they continued to have pulling power for talent in generation after generation.

Sadly, those days are seemingly gone now. Chiefs has lost its aura. What's left now is a great name, and sorry shell of a once fearsome force in SA football.

There is simply no star at the club these days. Those who wear their badge now are ordinary players compared to their predecessors. Indeed, they're draped now, week-in-week-out, in giants' robes that are ill-suited to them.

It is just as well that Jersey No.15 is retired at Chiefs. Because one of these players in the current crop would have had the misfortune of humiliating themselves in a jersey that was worn by one of the country's greatest ever players in Doctor Khumalo.

Yes, they had a good showing in the Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates, despite losing the game 3-2. But even in that game, the fact that they could take the lead twice, and then twice relinquish it to also go on to lose the game, shows how they just don't have the makings of a formidable Chiefs team.

They cannot kill a game in which they had their noses in front on a couple of occasions. That would never happen in the olden days. If you gave them even half a chance, they would bury you.

Perhaps goalkeeper Brandon Peterson's confrontation of coach Cavin Johnson in full view of 85,000 spectators and TV cameras lacked tact, and could have been done better and behind closed doors, but also perhaps that’s exactly the fight you want to see in a player wearing Kaizer Chiefs colours. You want to see the fight in their eyes and see that it still matters to them.

What that altercation did expose, though, are the deep lying issues that continue to plague the club, and the behavioural crisis that is clearly growing at Naturena.

Whether the problem lies with management or the players themselves, what we know is that Chiefs is no longer what it was, and were it not for the formidable brand they have built over the years, we could be talking about a club whose legacy is in serious jeopardy. 

Benjamin Leshoro is an award-winning broadcaster and sports presenter. He writes in his own capacity.