Kaizer Chiefs owe much of their problems to the make-up of their bench in more ways than one.
If they don’t improve it, they will go for a third successive season without a trophy. That would be the first time the country’s most successful team in domestic competitions would have gone that long without lifting a trophy.
A lot has been said about coach Steve Komphela’s tenure and capabilities, or lack thereof, to manage a club of Chiefs’ magnitude.
Komphela has failed at Amakhosi not just by not delivering silverware but also in not imposing himself to show just who is boss.
When asked about criticism that he is soft on the players, Komphela was his usual philosophical self and argued that just because he doesn’t flex his muscles doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have power.
“There are different ways to look at power,” he said.
“There is silent power, there’s soft power and there’s loud and aggressive power. We are different. It’s just that people who haven’t been with us don’t understand the exact levels of the power that we have and how we use it. When they are outside looking at us, maybe they think that there is lack thereof.
“However, if you want to show your power, sometimes it comes across as destructive. You could still be powerful but silent like an elephant. Sometimes you don’t have to show your power.
“I strongly believe that people need to be respected. Sometimes when you show too much power you pulverise and kill others. You still need to have your power but you push your power properly.”
It will take some doing for Komphela to turn things around and return glory days back to the club.
Despite keeping the core of the squad that started with him three years ago, Amakhosi aren’t well oiled as they should be. But most of the club’s problems aren’t only Komphela’s faults. You just have to look at their bench and players in the stands to see how thin Amakhosi are.
Chiefs have a strong starting XI that regularly features a defence that has four Bafana Bafana players - Itumeleng Khune, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Lorenzo Gordinho and Mulomowandau Mathoho - while the fifth member, Tsepo Masilela, is a former Bafana left-back who played in Spain.
The problem for Chiefs is who is behind that starting XI. The key to any good team is to have the players who will push each other so that they don’t take their positions for granted.
George Lebese alluded to that fact in the interview I did with him.He said going to Mamelodi Sundowns will push him to excel because if he is in the starting XI, there is a quality player on the bench and if he is on the bench that means there is a quality player starting ahead of him and he must work hard to replace him.
Chiefs don’t have that luxury as most of their players on the bench and in the stands would struggle to even make the squad of championship contenders like Bidvest Wits, SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns.
The reason why these three teams have been the best sides in the country in the last two seasons is because their quality goes beyond them just putting on a formidable starting XI.
They have players that they don’t utilise who could easily walk into any starting XI.
Wits, Sundowns and SuperSport can afford to put Ben Motshwari, Xola Mlambo, Anthony Laffor, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Jeremy Brockie and Teboho Mokoena on the bench and still be competitive.
Having such quality on the bench will push whoever is starting to do well because they know that there is a more than capable replacement waiting to take over.
Chiefs’ management are within their rights to demand answers from Komphela on where the team is going under his tenure. But after getting those answers and deciding what to do, they also have to look at some of the players they have brought to the club and admit that few have brought value to Amakhosi.
The absence of serious competition has been Chiefs’ biggest downfall.
That’s why the club conceded so many goals in the dying moments of games last season and the players who made those grave mistakes still kept their places because replacements from the bench weren’t up to it.
Amakhosi need to take a serious look at themselves and make tough decisions if they are to fight for honours like they're accustomed to. If they don’t, they will continue slipping down the order.