Birds new coach Komphela details reasons to leave Downs

'Sundowns has given one so much respect'

Steve Komphela has left Mamelodi Sundowns to become Swallows coach.
Steve Komphela has left Mamelodi Sundowns to become Swallows coach.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

New Swallows FC head coach Steve Komphela says former club Mamelodi Sundowns did not simply accept his exit, and questioned his reasons.

Komphela, promoted at Sundowns in a coaching reshuffle in October last year to “first team coach”, making him effectively the No2 to sole head coach Rulani Mokwena as Manqoba Mngqithi was demoted to “senior coach”, surprisingly left the Brazilians last week.

Speaking to Marawa Sports Worldwide along with his new Birds chair, David Mogashoa, Komphela detailed the process of informing Downs’ management of his decision to take up a head coaching role at Swallows.

“Sundowns has given one so much respect, so much quality in approach and achievement that it would take a lunatic not to be grateful, not to follow the right processes in terms of the requesting to leave,” the former Kaizer Chiefs coach said.

“If you were a man of good morals you would definitely say, ‘No but I owe explanation to this person because they’ve been extremely kind to you’.

“I did consult with the chair [Tlhopie Motsepe], obviously the president [Patrice Motsepe] would know about proceedings, up until the stage where you have to cut the throat.

“Which is the most painful, because you fully understand as you cut the throat, when blood spills it does not only splatter on your shoes – there are a whole lot of bystanders, people who appreciate the brand who are likely to be affected. So, you have to be careful when you do that – it has to be done with dignity and I think it was done in a very dignified manner.”

Komphela was asked if Sundowns accepted his decision easily, or put up a fight.

“Not a fight, not understood either. Because when you bring something to the table, a discussion that is quite serious, it does trigger a lot of, ‘Where did this come from?’

“Then you have to explain yourself. You strike an arrangement, develop frameworks, retreat a bit and give it another shot. Because you don’t just break sad news and expect it to be carried forth.”

Komphela said the meeting with Mogashoa to conclude the deal to join Swallows was held on the coach’s 56th birthday on July 1.

Mogashoa said talks with Komphela’s agent, Sibusiso Dube, began the Monday before that (June 26).

Swallows’ chair was asked to clarify his change in direction, having announced on an earlier MSW show that last season’s caretaker coach, who steered the team from relegation danger to eighth place, Musa Nyatama, would be the Birds’ head coach in 2023-24. Nyatama will work as Komphela’s assistant.

“I don’t regret saying Musa would be the head coach because at the time he was the person I felt was most suited to lead Swallows, given where they finished with him in charge,” Mogashoa said.

“But when coach Steve became available I then looked at it as a positive because coach Musa was going to learn from coach Steve.

“It would have been bad if I released coach Musa and said, ‘We no longer need him because coach Steve is coming’.”

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