When Steve Komphela took over as Kaizer Chiefs head coach ahead of the 2015/16 season, he inherited from Stuart Baxter a team that had won two league titles in three seasons.
Less than a year later, and the Soweto giants have come up horribly short in their title defence. With one game to play, they trail newly-crowned Absa Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns by a massive 22 points.
To lay the blame squarely at Komphela’s door though would be an injustice to the former Chiefs central defender. To be fair, it has probably been a combination of a whole lot of factors which has contributed to a rare trophy-less season.
Komphela took over a squad containing a handful of players who were starting to move past their prime. Arguably, not enough work had been done by his predecessor to ensure continuity and freshness in the squad.
Many of the new signings, despite having looked relatively decent acquisitions at the time, never came through for Komphela. The likes of Bongani Ndulula, Edward Manqele and Camildine Abraw failed to make an impact where it matters most – up front. On too many occasions, Chiefs outplayed their opponents, but missed simple chances to score. There is only so much a coach can do.
And don’t forgot that the Glamour Boys did reach two cup finals.
Perhaps it could be argued that Komphela should have done better in the transfer market last season. He’ll need to get it right this time around; not many can survive two successive seasons of underachievement at a club like Chiefs.
He’ll certainly be busy – according to a report on the Goal website, as many as 10 players are set to be shown the door. Amongst these speculated to be looking for new employers are: Ndulula, Simphiwe Mtsweni, Philani Cele, Levy Mokgothu, Ivan Bukenya, Sula Matovu and Ovidy Karuru.
In addition, Reneilwe Letsholonyane has already signed for SuperSport United, and could be joined in Pretoria by goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse.
“Close to 10 players will be released at the start of the new season and new players will be signed,” Goal.com quoted a source as saying.
“The list of the players to be released is not yet finalised. They want to build a strong team that will compete for silverware next season. They will clean up their house and bring in new players to strengthen the team.”
Apart from the abovementioned possible departures, senior players such as Siyanda Xulu, Morgan Gould, Siboniso Gaxa and Bernard Parker and will surely need to question their respective contributions this season.