Defining week for Chiefs’ Komphela

Steve Komphela, coach of Kaizer Chiefs (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

Steve Komphela, coach of Kaizer Chiefs (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

There is no doubt that this is a massive week in the season of Kaizer Chiefs and, perhaps more than anyone else involved with Amakhosi, in the season of Steve Komphela.

The Chiefs coach has taken an enormous amount of stick in two-and-a-bit seasons at Amakhosi, and has faced it all, it must be said, with an impressive amount of dignity. Komphela repeatedly says he understands full well that at Chiefs, you simply have to win trophies. And the simple fact is that Komphela, thus far, has won not one official piece of silverware (the Carling Black Label Cup, the Maize Cup and the Macufe Cup do not count).

Chiefs suffered another body blow in their bid to win the league title before the international break, slumping to defeat against Baroka FC. Now they have two huge games, at Mamelodi Sundowns this evening, and then the Soweto derby at home to Orlando Pirates on Saturday at the FNB Stadium. If Chiefs lose both of those games, Komphela’s position at Naturena could become untenable.

Kaizer Motaung is actually a chairman notorious for his patience with coaches, but just how long can he keep faith with Komphela, however gracious a man the head coach is?

In the face of adversity, there remains an opportunity for Komphela to make a statement that there is life in Amakhosi’s season yet, with victories over two massive rivals. But it is hard to see a Chiefs side ravaged by injuries finding a way past a Sundowns side back to full strength and now without the distraction of African club competition, or, indeed, an Orlando Pirates team getting back a bit of their mojo under Milutin Sredojevic.

One hope for the Chiefs-Pirates game is that security is tight, following the tragic events at the Carling Black Label Cup final in July.

At least the prospect of facing Sundowns should focus Chiefs’ players minds ahead of this evening’s games. Often a midweek game ahead of a derby distracts Soweto’s big two, but that is unlikely to happen to Amakhosi with Pitso Mosimane’s men in their faces. As for Pirates, they must absolutely avoid complacency when they take on struggling Platinum Stars tomorrow.

We get the latest from Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana opposite, and I do not buy for one minute his suggestion that Sundowns are the underdogs for this match. Sundowns chairman Patrice Motsepe, meanwhile, says he wants Pitso Mosimane to be the Sir Alex Ferguson of Mamelodi Sundowns, an encouraging sign in a league notorious for hiring and firing.

Congratulations are due, meanwhile, to Eric Tinkler’s SuperSport United for winning the MTN8 on Saturday. Matsatsantsa are on quite a run in cup finals, spearheaded by front man Bradley Grobler, whom we interview on Page 7.

We also have words from Ronwen Williams, Eric Tinkler and Benni McCarthy as we bring you all the fall-out from the game at Moses Mabhida Stadium. I just hope SuperSport have enough energy in their legs to compete with Club Africain in the Caf Confederation Cup semifinal, second leg this weekend.

If Tinkler’s side can win that one, it will be an incredible effort, especially after they only managed a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

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