Cape Town - South African Steve Komphela, who succeeded Englishman Stuart Baxter
as coach of champions Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday, faces many challenges.
The 47-year-old former Chiefs and South Africa centre-back and TV talk-show host in Turkey must tackle:
- Repeated CAF Champions League failures
- The absence of a consistent scorer
- Losing goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, centre-back Tefu Mashamaite and midfielder Mandla Masango after wage demands were rejected
- Sky-high expectations following successful Baxter reign
- Footballers who reportedly prefer working with white coaches
- Fickle supporters fond of turning against players and coaches
Soweto-based Chiefs, the most popular and successful football club in the country, see themselves as a top international team.
However, their Champions League record reveals a team that cannot make a sustained impact in Africa.
They have competed in the premier pan-African club competition four times and never passed the last-16 stage.
Chiefs have qualified for the 2016 edition and Komphela must add
depth to the squad and toughen the players mentally if they are to do
He must also find a regular scorer - Chiefs' leading 2015 Premiership marksman did not average even one goal every four games.
The club have been linked with Camaldine Abraw, the gangling Togo
striker who posed an aerial threat for unfashionable Free State Stars
Komphela must also create a new centre-back partnership as captain
Mashamaite has left and Erick Mathoho is being pursued by Belgian clubs.
Chiefs conceded only 14 goals in 30 matches when winning the 2015
Premiership and much of the credit for that went to the central
The salary demands of Khune, who reportedly wanted R700 000 a month to stay, triggered his exit.
Brilliant Khuzwayo, who played for much of last season as Khune
recovered from a lengthy injury, and Reyaad Pieterse are both excellent
So the challenge for Komphela will be who to choose.
Baxter, who joined Turkish outfit Genclerbirligi, set the bar
extremely high at Chiefs, winning two league titles and two cup
competitions during three years in charge.
Many black South African football coaches have complained that they
get less respect from a squad than white handlers, and less support from
Before Baxter, the previous five of Chiefs' permanent coaches were two Serbs, a Romanian, a German and a Turk.
Some Chiefs' supporters fancy themselves as coaches and roll their
hands to indicate it is time for a substitution, placing pressure on
Former school teacher Komphela, who speaks all 11 official South
African languages and learnt Turkish while playing there, is famed for
his TV comments.
While most Premiership coaches boringly recount the ebb and flow of a
match and lament missed scoring chances, Komphela often deviates.
"Statistics are like a bikini," he once opined, "they do not reveal everything."
Komphela was born in central town Kroonstad, played for Free State
Stars, Chiefs and two Turkish clubs, and won 24 international caps, some
as captain of Bafana Bafana.
His last coaching post was at Maritzburg United, an unfashionable,
star-less, KwaZulu-Natal-based outfit who he took to eighth last season.