Absa Premiership

Many challenges for Komphela

2015-06-18 16:06
Steve Komphela (Gallo Images)

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 better.

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 last season.

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 defenders. 

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 goalkeepers.

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 officials.

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 coaches.

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. 

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  steve komphela  |  soccer
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