Komphela's struggles at Chiefs are largely self-inflicted

Nkareng Matshe Sports editor
Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela.

It's a mystery as to why Steve Komphela has, three years into his job as Kaizer Chiefs coach, spectacularly failed to pinpoint and resolve problems which have beset his rein.

It was a tenure that started with so much promise, with Komphela leading Chiefs to two successive cup finals in 2015, but has delivered absolutely nothing thus far.

Chiefs, unless they win the Nedbank Cup, will complete a cycle of three trophyless years. Despite being given the latitude to enhance his regime and prove his competence, Komphela has floundered badly, making a contract extension
at the end of the season impossible.

That, though, is his own doing. In his first season, Komphela inherited a team who had won the championship but had lost key players such as Tefu Mashamaite and Mandla Masango. It was understandable that Chiefs, in a rebuilding phase then, fumbled in their title defence.

While first-season blues were expected of a coach who admittedly had made a gigantic coaching step - by landing the biggest job of his career - the past two seasons have served to expose Komphela's glaring limitations and tactical ineptitude.

Chiefs have regressed so badly in this period that they completely lost their aura of invincibility. Perhaps this was summed up by Vladislav Heric, the Chippa United coach who, in the build-up to their match against Amakhosi last week, remarked: "Chiefs are not like (Mamelodi) Sundowns. In all positions Sundowns is strong.

I mean come on, you can't talk and compare Chiefs to Sundowns," Heric said after Chippa's loss to Sundowns, just three days before their trip to FNB Stadium.

So prophetic did Heric's words turn out to be that the result was Chiefs' biggest league defeat in the Komphela era, a 3-0 drubbing that triggered violent scenes from the sparse Soccer City crowd.

Komphela is human and will make mistakes, but how he has still not figured out his best squad, three years on, is dumbfounding.

When Ramahlwe Mphahlele got an early injury in the match against Chippa, many would have expected Komphela to turn to Joseph Molangoane to fill in at rightback.

But instead the coach resorted to Bhongolethu Jayiya, who had made just two late substitute appearances, hardly enough game time to justify replacing a seasoned defender such as Mphahlele so early in the game.

Komphela's biggest tactical blunder, however, is his continued usage of Pule Ekstein as his playmaker. It makes no sense, not least when Chiefs have signed Siphelele Ntshangase.

To his credit, Komphela has given some players their big break, such as Siyabonga Ngezana, Dumisani Zuma and Ryan Moon. However, he's been too timid to overhaul the team. Orlando Pirates' Micho Sredojevic who, after being failed by senior players at the start of his era, totally changed the team and now has got the results.

Komphela should have done the same. He's now on the verge of leaving a job, which could have boosted his CV so much, as a complete failure. For some of us, it's just painful to watch.

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