Steve in u-turn

MISTAKE: Steve Komphela.

Manning Rangers head coach Steve Komphela. 
Pic: Mark Wing. 
© ST.
MISTAKE: Steve Komphela. Manning Rangers head coach Steve Komphela. Pic: Mark Wing. © ST.

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

National under-23 coach Steve Komphela has now resigned as head coach of Maritzburg United, hardly a week after joining the ailing KwaZulu-Natal side.

Sowetan has it on good authority that Komphela changed his mind at the weekend after discussions with influential sports leaders.

This was after he submitted a letter to the South African Football Association (Safa) two weeks ago, asking them to change his full-time contract to a part-time one.

Komphela wanted to guide the under-23s to the Olympics in Beijing while working full-time for United.

Our sources said the ministry of sports and recreation, where his brother, Butana Komphela, is chairman of the portfolio committee, was unhappy with his behavior.

He was told in no uncertain terms that his request to coach the under-23s and United simultaneously would not be acceded to.

Those who spoke to Komphela argued that guiding the under-23s to the Olympics was a more important task, which needed maximum focus.

Molefi Oliphant, Safa president, told Sowetan last week that the job of coaching the under-23s was an important one, hence the association made it a full-time one.

The pressure from various influential sports leaders resulted in Komphela not sitting on the bench when United lost 3-1 to Bidvest Wits on Saturday.

David Vilakazi, Komphela's former teammate at Free State Stars, was in charge. Vilakazi is likely to be appointed caretaker coach until the end of the season.

Serame Letsoaka was already earmarked to take over after it became clear that Safa were going to reject Komphela's request.

Letsoaka, who is employed full-time by Safa as Amajita head coach, also served as an assistant to Komphela at under-23 level.

Komphela refused to comment much, saying he was still to meet Safa chief executive Raymond Hack late yesterday.

At that meeting, Komphela was expected to submit a letter withdrawing from his earlier request to be allowed to coach the under-23s part-time.

"I have no comment, the whole thing has created unnecessary controversy," was all the usual motor-mouth would say.

Sowetan has also learnt that Komphela was a target of Lamontville Golden Arrows at some stage.

Asked if he will coach the under-23s in their eight- nations tournament in Qatar from January 20 to 31, team project leader Barney Kujane said: "As far as I know, Steve will be in charge."

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