Njabulo Ngidi.

The football romantic in me, which worships at the altar of the beautiful game and loves a good story even more, is over the moon with how Bloemfontein Celtic have started this season.

You don’t have to be a football romantic to have a soft spot for Siwelele – the heart that keeps Phunya Sele Sele beating.

Celtic fans are still the best in the country in terms of how they support their team, backing it through thick and thin by showering their players with love and encouraging them with their singing.

Siwelele made the drab final match of the league last season between Celtic and Sundowns entertaining by schooling the Brazilians supporters, who challenged the side from the City of Roses in the singing department at the stadium.

For a number of years, Siwelele haven’t had much to sing about. Against the Brazilians, Celtic were fighting for a place in the top eight.

Now, in Steve Komphela, Celtic have a coach who is cut from the same cloth as Siwelele – a gracious gentleman who loves the game, and isn’t shy to acknowledge a better man in a contest.

Komphela’s marriage with Siwelele is a match made in football heaven. The two need each other in their quest to improve their image.

Komphela’s name was tarnished in his three trophyless seasons at Kaizer Chiefs.

He faced numerous missiles and insults from Amakhosi fans, who invaded the pitch and almost beat one security guard to death.

Komphela had no choice but to resign.

He won’t experience such challenges at Celtic. He will consistently get love, which should help him succeed.

He has already shown what a great man-manager he is by leading Celtic to a bright start despite the problems they had off the field.

Celtic were almost liquidated, and players threatened to boycott their opening matches as they hadn’t been paid.

But you don’t see that in how they have started the season. Celtic are unbeaten in four games.

Komphela’s time at Chiefs showed he isn’t cut out to manage a team whose drive is to win everything on offer.

Komphela’s best trait is being a teacher and refining rough diamonds.

Teams like Chiefs don’t have time for that, they want trophies – and trophies which Komphela couldn’t bring.

He has no choice but to polish rough diamonds at Celtic and be a teacher, as they can’t exactly solve their problems with a chequebook.

This is perfect for Komphela because that’s what he does best.

I interviewed Komphela in 2013, when he was still at Free State Stars, on how he feels about having never won a trophy, even though he refined a number of stars, including Siphiwe Tshabalala, Mpho Makola, Edward Manqele and Thabo Matlaba.

“The day we assume selflessness in our lives, we will progress,” Komphela told me.

“There comes a stage where a coach takes a decision to work in an environment where he will win trophies. He doesn’t care about anything else. It is about him. That’s selfish.

Bloemfontein Celtic coach Steve Komphela’s best trait is being a teacher and refining rough diamonds. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

“I am at a stage where I want to develop other players. It is selflessness. But on the other hand, it kills you as a coach, because after two years they ask you: ‘What have you won?’

“And then you say: ‘I haven’t won anything.’

“They don’t count the number of players you have pushed in the PSL.”

Siwelele will count every victory he gives them, no matter how small it may seem.

* Njabulo Ngidi is a football writer for New Frame.



Saturday Star

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