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Nedbank Cup loss piles more pressure on Komphela

PSL
JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela sat calmly in the FNB Stadium auditorium, disappointed with the manner in which his Kazier Chiefs side were dumped out of the Nedbank Cup on Saturday night by SuperSport United following the lottery of the penalty shoot-out.

But over the coming days, especially this week seeing that it could be a defining one for the club’s Absa Premiership title hopes, the coach will be hit hard by the stark reality that in almost two years he’s not delivered a trophy to Naturena.

With the 5-3 win from spot kicks, his SuperSport counterpart Stuart Baxter will feel his men, on the other hand, could maybe kick on and revive their championship aspirations, failing which the Nedbank Cup is still an option.

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Steve Komphela faces a season-defining week, with his Kaizer Chiefs side set to play Cape Town City and SuperSport United. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Not so for Komphela.

“We came into the match knowing we have it in our own hands and we could determine our own fate,” said the coach whose Amakhosi side are away to log leaders Cape Town City on Tuesday and SuperSport again on Saturday.

“Unfortunately nobody will remember that we lost on penalties and that we also missed a penalty kick (fluffed by striker Bernard Parker) towards the end of extra-time.

"The sad part about the league championship is that we still have to depend on other teams dropping points. The Nedbank Cup was better in that you could go on without having to look to anyone else to do you any favours.”

Maybe the cup defeat stung even more considering that it was Baxter, a former Chiefs coach whose four trophies in three years at the club led to Amakhosi chairman Kaizer Motaung comparing him to Jeff Butler (who died hours before kick-off), who inflicted the pain as SuperSport ended Chiefs’ 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Baxter himself was relived that his players are reacting positively to the 5-0 drubbing by crosstown rivals Mamelodi Sundowns on Good Friday eve and the narrow 1-0 defeat to the same team six days later.

“We started with the Baroka result (a 1-0 loss that brought their 19-game unbeaten run in the league to a halt), which was a poor performance. And yes we can philosophise the poor performance by asking if my discussions with Safa about the Bafana job have destabilised the team or if it’s the long journeys in the CAF Confederation Cup or the injuries to certain players that contributed.

"It doesn’t really matter, a poor performance is a poor performance and tastes just as bad all the time,” said Baxter.

While Komphela could possibly end the season without a trophy for the second season running, Baxter is now chasing a rare feat of winning the Nedbank Cup in two successive years with the same team. He also won the trophy once at Chiefs.

“When you talk about personal success it sounds like you are blowing your own trumpet and it’s a massive ego. I love winning, whether I am playing tennis against my wife or kicking the ball around in the garden with the kids, and I love winning football games,” Baxter said.

“So winning a tournament is an even better form of winning. It will be another trophy that shows that I am doing Okay and should keep going and shouldn’t stop because I will get hit by a train.”

The Star


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