Pressure mounts on Komphela
Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela can get his name into the club’s record books on Wednesday night, but not for the kind of reason he would have been hoping.
If Amakhosi lose to Platinum Stars in Soweto it would mark the first time in 10 years that South Africa’s most popular team has gone six league matches without a win.
The last time it occurred was between May and September of 2006, when Ernst Middendorp reached that unwanted milestone.
Unhappy Chiefs fans have to go all the way back to April this year to remember how it felt to win in the league. After beating now-relegated AmaTuks 2-1, the Glamour Boys lost to Mamelodi Sundowns, drew with Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars and then went down to Chippa United in their final match of the 2015/ 16 campaign.
This season they began with a 2-1 reverse to Bidvest Wits in the league (and also lost 1-0 to Cape Town City in the MTN8).
Komphela joined Chiefs ahead of the 2015/ 16 season, taking over from Stuart Baxter, who had claimed two league titles in three seasons, as well the Nedbank Cup and MTN8.
The early days of Komphela’s tenure showed promise – he took the club he used to represent as a central defender to the finals of the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout cups.
The two cup final defeats, and a 3-1 reverse to Pirates in the league were the only losses in 20 matches between the end of August and the Christmas break.
But after a five match-winning streak and an eight game unbeaten run in February, Chiefs’ record has been dismal. In 14 matches in all competitions, the win over Tuks was the only victory as Komphela saw his team crashing out of the CAF Champions League, the Nedbank Cup, while finishing fifth in the league.
Three defeats (one of those via a penalty shoot-out) in Komphela’s four official Soweto derby outings against arch rivals Orlando Pirates have added to an ever-increasing headache.
The official word from the club is that the 49-year-old Komphela continues to have his bosses’ backing.
He also has the apparent support of the dressing room, with captain Itumeleng Khune this week saying that the players should be taking more responsibility for their poor form.
“The problems have been with us as players. We aren’t pushing hard enough. The coach does his job,” said Khune.
“At training we look good, we score goals. But when we get to the match, the goals are lacking. As a team we are failing ourselves. I won’t point fingers at certain departments. That would break the team.”
Khune may be right, although it’s Komphela who has to live and die by the players he has at his disposal, and the jury very much remains out as to whether the raft