Discord between Kaizer Chiefs head coach Steve Komphela and Doctor Khumalo is apparently the reason the latter is no longer Amakhosi assistant coach, The Star understands.
Khumalo was last week demoted from a position he has held for four consecutive seasons at the club (three years as Stuart Baxter’s second-in-command and just one assisting Komphela), with Ghanaian veteran John Paintsil announced as his replacement. The Chiefs stalwart, however, broke his silence yesterday and denied that he had actually applied to succeed Baxter and that he was relegated to a minor role because of his alleged tiff with Komphela.
“The real reason for the changes in the technical team is that Steve and Doctor were not getting along,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous, but is privy to several movements at Chiefs. “In one instance, the coach was giving a team-talk and Doctor was on his phone. That was probably the biggest indication that they cannot work together and changes to the technical team had to be made. Doctor also has his own ideas and perhaps Steve doesn’t want someone whose input differs to his every time.”
Another informant said it was no secret that there was animosity between Komphela and Khumalo since the coach took over from Baxter at the start of the previous season. “But the players just carried on unfazed because this was clear,” the source explained. “The technical team changes will not come as a shock to them. Maybe Steve and Doc left management with no choice but to separate them in the new season.”
There were reports last month that Khumalo would be appointed technical director – forcing Komphela to take orders from him. But Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung refuted these claims a week ago and added that Khumalo would play an integral part in the club’s attempts to rebuild their youth structure, which was abruptly shut down in 2010 due to an age-cheating scandal.
Asked whether he and Komphela had a rocky relationship, Khumalo rebuffed the suggestions, saying his pending role at the club was discussed long before Komphela arrived. “There is no such thing as me and Steve fighting,” Khumalo, who has only ever been within the Amakhosi coaching system since retiring from playing in 2002, said yesterday.
“I understand why people would think Steve and I didn’t get along because this thing has been out there even before he arrived at Chiefs. But I can tell you that the plan was to always have me working with the youth, especially after Baxter left. The club didn’t want both of us to disappear because we had been around when discussions about a youth academy started. It was agreed that I would work with Steve for one season and then move on. This is a surprise to a lot of people, but not to me. I can also tell you that I never asked for the head coach job.”
At a press conference where Chiefs unveiled eight new players and also confirmed Paintsil would be replacing Khumalo, coach Komphela admitted that working with ‘new people’ felt a bit unsettling. But it was necessary, he said. “You feel a little bit awkward about a change in the technical team, to be honest. You are not comfortable. But it is informed by what we are doing here with regards to our development,” Komphela said then.
“ other club, only Chiefs. And kids need to be with the one they can identify with, one who understands the culture. That created a vacancy in the technical team.” – The Star