One of the most daring and brave decisions that
Orlando Pirates boss, The Iron Duke of South African Football, Irvin Khoza ever
took, was firing coach Joe Frickleton ahead of the Africa Club Championships
final in 1995.
After the clubs were locked at 2-all after the first
leg at FNB Stadium, Khoza sacked the mentor, replacing him with assistant, the
late Ronald Mkhandawire - may his soul
rest in peace - to lead the troops in
the second leg in Abidjan.
It is now history that the Buccaneers emerged
victorious thanks to that strike by Jerry Skhosana that has become stuff of
Going into Saturday's Soweto Derby, neither of Khoza or
his Kaizer Chiefs counterpart, Kaizer Motaung, could be blamed if they
pulled the trigger on either of their beleaguered coaches, Eric Tinkler and
Steve Komphela, respectively.
The pair have been walking the plank while skating on
thin ice for quite some time. Tinkler
did well in the CAF Confederation Cup, but the results have not been forthcoming
on the domestic front.
The club is still languishing in the bottom half of
the log and has failed to make any impressive progress in two domestic cups -
the MTN8 Cup and the Telkom Knockout Cup -
that have already been won by Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns, respectively.
Komphela has not covered himself in glory either
despite the club in fourth on the log. Chiefs have failed to get the 30
points targeted by Komphela at the halfway mark. They also lost in both the
MTN8 and Telkom Cup finals.
This means Komphela has failed to defend one of the
cups won by his predecessor Stuart Baxter last season (MTN8) while chances
of defending the league title are also fast diminishing.
And then this past weekend, Pirates suffered a shock
1-0 defeat at the hands of lowly Jomo Cosmos.
Then the following day, Amakhosi forfeited a 1-0 first
half lead to go down 2-1 to Platinum Stars in their home game played at the
Cape Town Stadium.
Sometimes in football, they say, it is not about
losing, but how you lose.
Kaizer Chiefs fans will find it a bitter pill to
swallow that after taking the lead, Amakhosi capitulated to two late
strikes to drop all three points on offer on the day.
So, it's against the backdrop of these bad
results that Tinkler and Komphela head into the biggest fixture in the country on Saturday (15:30 at FNB Stadium).
disagree with Khoza or Motaung if they were to relieve their coaches of their
duties - even if it happened before the Derby.
However, should the two coaches go into Saturday still in the hot seat - although with one leg in and one out - Saturday's result becomes
even more important.
Anyone who has followed South African soccer for some
time will know how much bearing the result of a Soweto Derby has had on a coach's future.
It is a typical "make or break" scenario or to paraphrase the
great, legendary Liverpool mentor Bill
Shankly, it is more than being a matter of life and death.
We will see who will come out unscathed.
May the best man (or team) win!
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading
sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of
the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is
currently City Press Sports Editor.
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