Motaung in Washington Post on MLS final
Motaung in Washington Post on MLS final

Posted in Features, News on Dec 08, 2018.

Chiefs won the NASL championship title in 1968. Of course, we are not talking here about Kaizer Chiefs, but the American side Atlanta Chiefs for which Kaizer Motaung scored the third goal in a 3-0 win over San Diego Torres to win the title that year.

Fifty years later, Atlanta Chiefs’ successor Atlanta United has a chance to repeat the success of Motaung’s American side in 1968, as they play tonight in the final of the MLS against the Portland Timbers. Reason enough for renowned sports journalist Steven Goff from the American newspaper, The Washington Post to contact the Kaizer Chiefs Chairman, Kaizer Motaung, to discuss the title win fifty years ago.

“It is one of those memories that never get erased from your memory,” reflected Motaung, who was nicknamed ‘Big Boy’ in the US. “I was still a youngster from Soweto and it was the first time I traveled overseas to join Atlanta Chiefs in 1968.”

In those days, the crowds averaged around 6 000 per game, but Atlanta United’s average attendance this season has been an amazing 53 000. “That number was unheard of in those days,” commented Motaung. “However, it makes me proud to have been part of a side that laid the foundation for Atlanta’s present team.”

Atlanta Chiefs did attract almost 15 000 spectators for the second leg of the NASL final in 1968, after a goalless draw in the first leg. The left-footed Motaung had a great game in that final which was rounded off by netting the third goal. The South African star was voted as the Rookie of the Year by the end of the 1968 season, having played a major role in steering Atlanta Chiefs to the NASL championship title.

Motaung was even more influential the following season, scoring 16 goals in 16 games to become the league’s top goalscorer. He was unanimously voted in the NASL All-Star Team after a truly brilliant season. The Amakhosi Chairman also played for Atlanta Chiefs in 1971, which was followed by two seasons (1974 and 1975) with Denver Dynamos.

“Atlanta will always be my second home,” Motaung confessed to the Washington Post journalist, before explaining how Kaizer Chiefs was founded on 7 January 1970, naming it after himself and his American club, Atlanta Chiefs. Adding with a smile on his face, “I just wanted to keep that experience going on. We wanted to model ourselves against what my experiences were in Atlanta.”

Motaung told The Washington Post journalist, Steven Goff, furthermore that he will closely follow tonight’s MLS final between Atlanta United and Portland Timbers . “I want to wish the team well. I hope they can do what we did fifty years ago.”

The MLS final will be played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will kick off on Saturday evening, 8 December, at 20:00, Eastern US time (that’s 03:00 on Sunday morning, South African time).


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