Absa Premiership

Komphela in the same boat as Wenger?

2018-03-14 13:13
Steve Komphela.(Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is an expression that originated in America's Wild West in the 19th century whereby a last desperate chance of success of one sort or another loomed ominously on the horizon.

And finding themselves in what has been termed "a last chance saloon" would certainly seem to be an appropriate and strikingly similar situation for highly respected, but troubled coaches Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) and Steve Komphela (Kaizer Chiefs).

For Wenger, for certain, after a distinguished period of success in the English Premiership and FA Cup in particular with the Gunners that has extended over two decades, pressure recently reached fever pitch among supporters and others associated with Arsenal for the respected manager to step down after a grim succession of unprecedented defeats under his charge in various competitions.

Komphela, while a minnow in coaching compared to Wenger, has a special affinity with Chiefs as a former captain of the club and Bafana Bafana and was hailed as the ideal acquisition of Amakhosi when he took over as coach from Stuart Baxter.

But in three seasons since Chiefs have failed to win a single official tournament of any kind - and this is regarded altogether unacceptable, if not unprecedented by the Naturena-based glamour club.

So where do the gentlemanly, articulate Wenger and Komphela stand now?

For Wenger, it would seem, survival as Arsenal manager might well depend on the club annexing the Europa Cup, the only avenue for success remaining this season and one that would earn qualification for next season's Champions League.

And for Komphela, despite the reluctance of the club's hierarchy to dispense with their coach's services, the axe might well fall on his head if Chiefs do not emerge with some honour from the season's remaining Nedbank Cup fixtures.

But despite the forebodings, there has emerged in the past week an encouraging ray of hope for both Wenger and Komphela, with Arsenal confounding the sceptics by outplaying formidable opponents in AC Milan in an away 2-0 first-leg Europa Cup win and Chiefs surviving stern opposition from NFD club Stellenbosch FC to progress to the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

So venturing into the "Last Chance Saloon" might not be a dead-end after all for the coaches who have characteristically maintained their dignity through their most trying ordeals.


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