“Gavin Hunt has been in the game for long,” says Ramahlwe ‘Rama’ Mphahlele about Kaizer Chiefs’ new coach. “He knows what South African soccer is all about. He’s a proven winner.”
The first team squad has now been training for about two weeks with Hunt to get ready for the new season.
“He is very precise in what he wants,” Amakhosi’s defender continues. “We concentrate on what to do when we have the ball, what to do when we don’t have the ball and how to break down opponents.”
Mphahlele started in one league match during the last season, while coming on as a substitute in five other games.
It was a painful season, not only on a personal level for the 30-year old, due to the lack of game time, but also because the Glamour Boys missed out on the league title on the last day of the season.
“It was an agonizing ending to the season,” Mphahlele confesses, “we all agree on that. Now, we just want to play and make things right.
Hunt is taking the Amakhosi squad through pre-season in his own no-nonsense way.
“He’s different,” admits ‘Rama’. “He pushes us hard and clearly wants the best out of everyone. One thing is clear, if you don’t work hard, you won’t be part of the match day team.”
Mphahlele was actually handed his first professional contract in the 2006/2007 season by Gavin Hunt, when he was coaching Moroka Swallows. ‘Rama’ came from the club’s junior ranks.
“The coach clearly loves working with young players,” he adds. “I am seeing it now at Chiefs as well. It’s interesting to see how he’s pushing them. The youngsters will need to step up and show that they are ready to compete for a first team starting position. I think what we need is a mixture of senior players and youngsters.”
Most of these young talents come from Chiefs’ youth ranks and have played for the club’s reserve side, which was coached by Arthur Zwane. The former Amakhosi winger is presently one of Hunt’s two assistant coaches, Dillon Sheppard being the other.
“Arthur has clearly done a good job,” the Ga-Mphahlele-born defender points out.
What Mphahlele also likes about Amakhosi’s new coach is that “from the first day of training, Hunt went straight into tactics. For sure, we are running a lot, but it is mostly with the ball. He also wants training sessions to be done in a certain way, with high intensity.”
About the upcoming 2020/2021 season, which will start for Chiefs with an MTN8 fixture at home against Maritzburg on Sunday, 18 October, the defender comments: “It’s a bit too early to talk about that match in detail, but we are all looking forward to play a competitive match again and to change the mindset of losing out on the league trophy.
Amakhosi will participate in the African Champions League again this season. “It is a very important competition for a club like Kaizer Chiefs and we want to do well,” Mphahlele emphasizes.