Kaizer Chiefs were on Sunday banned for a period of two transfer windows for the ‘illegal’ signing of Madagascar international Andriamirado “Dax” Andrianarimanana in 2018.
Amakhosi signed the midfielder without compensating his then-club Fosa Juniors FC, and the Madagascar-based club took them heads on and went straight to Fifa to lodge a complaint.
The matter took six weeks, between July and September, before Fifa ruled in favour of Chiefs to ‘provisionally’ register the man known as Dax to many South Africans.
What Fifa meant was that Chiefs may go ahead and use the player as theirs while investigations were underway.
Fosa Juniors just wanted to sit at the negotiation tables with Chiefs to discuss Dax’s deal – and Bobby Motaung was at times open to the idea of compensating them until claiming at a later stage that the player was, in fact, a free agent.
However, Dax’s registration has come back to haunt Chiefs, who have now been told they cannot register players ahead of the start of next season and again in January 2021 – the first of its kind in the history of South African football.
The Soweto giants have confirmed their intentions to appeal Fifa’s ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but how will the sanction affect them if their appeal is unsuccessful?
Pressure to hand several players new deals
As things stand, only three players have signed contract extensions at Chiefs, and there’s now increased pressure to keep more players at the club for at least another season.
They are Willard Katsande, Bernard Parker and Daniel Akpeyi, while the rest of the other players have not reached an agreement over new deals and packages.
George Maluleka and Leonardo Castro are the two regular players in the current squad whose extensions are still outstandings, while players such as Joseph Molangoane and Siphelele Ntshangase will see their contracts expire at the end of the season.
With the squad of 30 players, Chiefs know they cannot afford to lose any of the three players – at least for now until they know the outcome of their appeal.
They could find themselves held at ransom by some players who would demand high-salary packages in order to stay, and the management would have no choice but to succumb to that kind of pressure for them to keep competing for trophies next season.
The ramifications of not tying down these important players may not be felt right now but at the start of next season, more so if Chiefs win the league this season because they would be expected to defend or at least challenge for it until the bitter end.
Assuming they finish in the top two, which seems increasingly likely, there’s also the little matter of a Caf Champions League campaign and the added fixtures and pressure that comes with that.
Would they be able to cope in any of the above scenarios?
Thin squad, decreased competition
Chiefs missed out on an opportunity to enforce their squad in January – but no one can blame them as they didn’t know or even anticipate Fifa would come hard on them for something that happened almost two seasons ago.
They brought in just one new signing; a like-for-like as James Kotei made way for Anthony Akumu – but releasing Lorenzo Gordinho, who has now joined Bidvest Wits, will leave them thin at the back next season.
Again, if the likes of Maluleka and Castro don’t sign and Ntshangase also opts to jump ship after two frustrating years at the club then Chiefs will be badly affected and could struggle to compete against the best in the league.
If the Naturena-based side loses more players before the start of next season then Middendorp will have to work with a thin squad of fewer than 30 players – a number which experienced coaches would tell is sizable to work with and deliver the goods in case of injuries and suspensions.
Some may well say Chiefs have not done enough in terms of going all out in spending cash on quality players but it is worth noting that they did their best in the last two transfer window – even if the majority of the six signings arrived as free agents.
What the sanction says is that they cannot register anyone who doesn’t belong to them – and this could prove tricky for Middendorp as he would have to make use of the current squad.
His tactics, which have been on point so far this season, may also be exposed because of a possible lack of depth across almost every department.
Opportunity for on-loan players and MDC starlets
Amakhosi have sent a number of players on loan for them to get game-time, and this sanction may well force them to think deep and perhaps bring them back for next season.
Players such as Itumeleng Shopane, Ayanda Rorwana, Given Thibedi and Sizwe Twala all joined Swallows FC on loan while Kabelo Mahlasela is at Polokwane City until the end of the season.
Mahlasela’s contract is up for renewal in June but Chiefs have an option to extend it by a further year.
There was doubt if Chiefs would take the option when Mahlasela left in January, but they may have to keep the player for one more season, especially with Molangoane still sidelined with a long-term injury.
The management’s other option would be to look no further than promoting a few of their academy players.
Things have been looking very promising for the younger players from the MDC – several players, including Happy Mashiane, Bontle Molefe, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, Njabulo Blom, Siphesihle Ngcobo have made it to the first team and are highly-rated young players.
They will, however, have to tread carefully and promote the players they would need rather than just anyone who’s promising because next season will be tougher, especially if they qualify for continental football.
As things stand, only Ntiya-Ntiya and Blom have featured regularly for Middendorp’s side this season – and this transfer ban could also mean a chance for the rest of the other players to be considered going forward.
The question is whether or not they are ready to carry the team under the most difficult circumstances.
South Africa Chief Editor
Photo Credit: Goal.com