JOHANNESBURG – An even better homecoming for Steve Komphela would have been a win, but overturning a two-goal deficit in three minutes is probably just as good.
Kaizer Chiefs were forced to protect a point when they had been in cruise control against a side now led by former coach Komphela.
There was a lot of focus on the 51-year-old tactician returning to the Calabash having spent three roller-coaster seasons here before resigning – without winning any kind of major silverware – back in April.
Some felt he’d bounced back too quickly to take up a job at Bloemfontein Celtic. But having won three Absa Premiership in a row prior to coming here to earn a hard fought draw, it is difficult to argue that he perhaps needed a sabbatical.
Komphela silenced the Chiefs crowd here, who were vocal earlier when Khama Billiat gave them the lead in the first half and Khotso Malope adding to the tally shortly after the hour mark.
Amakhosi were completely dominant, pressing Celtic and forcing them back in a performance that would have been worthy of a first league win for their coach Giovanni Solinas.
However, they were let down by their defence yet again – Daniel Cardoso the main culprit when he first mistimed his header and let Menzi Masuku through on goal to place the ball past goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, who was deputising in Itumeleng Khune’s absence.
Then striker Ndumiso Mabena easily went past Cardoso again three minutes later to blast the ball past Bvuma to level matters for Celtic and give Komphela the upper hand. This has fueled suggestions that Chiefs haven’t been the same since his departure, although there were obvious signs that this Amakhosi team is a lot better in attack under Solinas.
The problem, though remains at the back. Chiefs struggled to consolidate a lead on Sunday away to SuperSport United in the first leg of the MTN8, their defensive frailties exposed over and over, with Cardoso the chief offender.
Solinas has been defiant about fixing the backline, arguing that it’s the price you pay for being a pressing outfit with an attacking game model.
Komphela exposed that, just as his SuperSport United counterpart Kaitano Tembo did at the weekend.
Komphela will also celebrate keeping his unbeaten run in his new club’s opening four matches, but the pressure continues to pile on Solinas, who is still searching for a first league win.
Chiefs have played four draws and lost one game in the Premier League, conceding an incredible seven goals.
He will know that Chiefs had no business losing here, especially after Siphelele Ntshangase and Dumisani Zuma both struck the woodwork in the first half, attempts which would have killed the game had they gone in.
Where a win is going to come from now is anyone’s guess as Chiefs lose further ground in the championship race.
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 2 (Billiat 37, Malope 64)
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 2 (Masuku 76, Mabena 79)