Steve Komphela says he will deal with a job offer from Kaizer Chiefs if and when it comes, following the sacking on Wednesday of Vladimir Vermezovic.
Komphela has long been rumoured to be the man favoured by Amakhosi to replace Vermezovic, but has continuously flat-batted questions on the matter.
On Wednesday, however, while he again reiterated his commitment to Free State Stars, Komphela fell short of totally ruling out a move to Naturena.
“My mind is clear, my commitment is with Free State Stars, I have a project to finish here, and there is no way I can start thinking otherwise,” said Komphela.
When asked what he would do if Chiefs offered him the job, however, Komphela said: “I won’t answer that question now, I’ll cross that bridge when I arrive there.”
He also described the coaching role at Chiefs as a job “everybody wants”.
“You will see by the number of applicants.”
Vermezovic was sacked, ironically, just a few days before Saturday’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final meeting with Komphela’s Stars. The timing of the decision has been questioned by many, with Chiefs still in with a chance at a league and cup double. Komphela certainly empathised with his former counterpart’s plight.
“As a professional I feel for the coach. From whatever side, his or the club’s, one wouldn’t want to see this happen, with six matches to go and the possibility of the double.
“Unfortunately for us coaches, we always carry small bags! I wish him (Vermezovic) well, he is a good coach and a good friend of mine. Obviously, Chiefs would never have taken such a drastic decision if they didn’t think it was good for both parties.”
Bidvest Wits coach Roger De Sa, meanwhile, also expressed surprise at Vermezovic’s sacking.
“I think so (it’s surprising), at this stage of the season. Obviously they’ve got their reasons and there’s always three sides to every story. But Chiefs are not usually the firing type … it must have been something quite serious.”
With coaches all over the world increasingly the subject of itchy trigger fingers, however, De Sa, a little like Komphela, was also philosophical on the matter.
“You can be sure it will happen (getting fired), it’s just a question of when,” mused the Wits coach.
So who is next in line for Chiefs?
Komphela has consistently denied that he is going to Amakhosi but the whispers are only likely to get louder now that Vermezovic is gone. Chairman Kaizer Motaung once said he would never hire a homegrown coach at Chiefs, but it could well be that the side’s relative lack of success in the league is making him reconsider. One possible stumbling block to the move, however, is Komphela’s taking of the Bafana assistant coach job. It is hard to know if the Chiefs chairman would be happy with Komphela wearing two prestigious hats.
The former Bafana Bafana coach is another to be linked to the Chiefs job. Baxter had mixed success with the national team, failing to qualify them for the 2006 World Cup, though he did get them to the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, resigning before he had a chance to take the team to the finals in Egypt. Baxter has coached at clubs in Japan, Portugal, Norway and Sweden and most recently coached the Finnish national team. He is currently out of a job,and might just fancy a trip back to sunny South Africa.
Romanian Ted Dumitru is the only man to have won a league title with Chiefs in the Premier Soccer League era. He actually did it two seasons in a row, in 2003/4 and 2004/5, building on an extremely solid defence, and relying heavily on the skills of John “Shoes” Moshoeu in 03/04, and the goals of Collins Mbesuma in 04/05. When last seen in the domestic game, Dumitru was technical director at Mamelodi Sundowns, but would surely jump at the opportunity to coach Chiefs again.