JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela’s masterclass in Kaizer Chiefs’ 2-1 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday night was a week in the making, the Amakhosi coach, who didn’t get any credit for his tactics from counterpart Pitso Mosimane, said.
“Immediately after Kgotso Moleko got injured in the Macufe Cup last week, we knew we had our work cut out and needed to come up with a plan,” said Komphela.
Moleko would have played right-back and it is unlikely that the coach would have gambled with a three-man central defence that included teenage debutant Siyabonga Ngezana (19) and Joseph Molangoane in an unfamiliar right wing back position.
“I would say we had about three days to work on this formation. We had too many injuries, but I knew the young boy Ngezana would enjoy the challenge to go one-on-one with the Sundowns attackers because he is a traditional centreback,” Komphela revealed..
"We also thought Molangoane would handle the defensive duties because he played at rightback when he was at Jazzy Queen Legodi’s academy and when I gave him his professional debut at Platinum Stars."
With Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso guiding rookie Ngezana, who went on to score the opening goal for Chiefs, the tactics were a masterstroke.
Amakhosi had seven players out injured, including five defenders.
“Pitso does a lot of analysis,” said Komphela in explaining his thought process ahead an Absa Premiership fixture that he simply had to win for some reprieve.
“He goes through individuals, he goes through your structure. And maybe one of the ways to overcome such, if you don’t perform at your best, you have to tweak certain things. One of them was to tweak our structure because we had been playing 4-4-2 all along, getting results and here and there we fluffed.
"At the back of not having any player to play on the right - Moleko is out, Ramahlwe (Mphahlele) is out - you are looking for someone who can do a job for you on the right. I asked myself if Molangoane would cope in a back four and how far is the distance between pushing up and having the coordination with the centrebacks. The only way to give him a survival mode was to plant three (centrebacks).”
Komphela said he did not take lightly the threat posed by Percy Tau and Khama Billiat, two of the most deadly attackers in the PSL, when planning for Sundowns.
“They can hurt you. So we need three across. I thought Ngezana handled them well, hence he was Man of the Match. It was his game because he is more of an old school centreback who enjoys the challenges,” the coach explained.
"I thought we could have done better in attack. But when you set up like that, chances are that you might not dominate possession. However, you need to take the few chances that you create, which we did.
“It was a whole lot of thinking one had to engage in as a coach. We didn’t expect to dominate possession, but sometimes we did. To win 2-1, I will take it as we were playing away and this will boost their confidence.”
Asked whether he was relieved to get a win under his belt following the shock defeat to Baroka FC, which piled on the pressure prior to the international break three weeks ago, Komphela played down the significance of the win over Sundowns, only saying he viewed it as a massive three points ahead of the Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
“There’s no relief,” he said. “We have just said to the players we only got three points, which is the expectation for Chiefs. We haven’t done anything. It is just that we won a big match.
"It is sweet for the supporters because they are driving back home and they love winning. Maybe we should be under more pressure because we think better - we don’t relax and we don’t sleep. That’s when you are at work.”