JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela knows that the storm that hit Kaizer Chiefs’ ship, threatening to drown him in the process, might have subsided but it can quickly come back if they don’t continue with their positive run.
The Chiefs coach is enjoying a better relationship with the club’s supporters after reaching the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout and collecting four points from Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates. The memory of the fans calling for his axing for the umpteenth time at the start of the season is now distant. But that sentiment hasn’t completely died; it’s just been pushed back with the team doing well and it will come back should they fall back in their quest to win their first trophy under Komphela.
“You don’t have to look at the negatives of football,” Komphela said. “The one thing that you must understand is that it is not hatred (that made the fans call for my head) but love for the club. They love the club to bits. If you take it personally, then you might think otherwise. But we are professionals.
"If results aren’t forthcoming, nobody will be happy. They won’t praise us when results aren’t forthcoming. It’s only logical. You as a human being need to get to a level of maturity emotionally so that you accept circumstances and change the status quo. But we are okay with it. We appreciate their support.”
With that support, Chiefs huffed and puffed but couldn’t get maximum points in their goalless draw with Polokwane City on Tuesday in front of 13500 fans at Peter Mokaba Stadium. But a point was better than nothing after taxing matches against Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, travel to Durban for their 3-0 win over AmaZulu, then making the trek to Polokwane via Joburg.
Amakhosi will travel to Port Elizabeth to take on Chippa United on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout.
“It’s a bit hectic, which is why I had thought that we would wrap up the match (against Polokwane) in time and give some players a break,” Komphela said.
“Last week we gave (Bernard) Parker and Shabba (Siphiwe Tshabalala) 20 minutes less. I thought I would cut some miles on their legs but I couldn’t. You can see that (Joseph) Molangoane is putting a lot on his legs, as is Philani Zulu. We are just praying (nothing happens to them) because our numbers are not great (due to injuries).”
Komphela is looking forward to the international break after the trip to Port Elizabeth. He will give his players a rest before returning to their league commitments and adding more points to the 14 they’ve collected in 10 matches.
“If you look at the log, nobody gets free points,” Komphela said. “It’s tight. I don’t know how far it will go. Are we going to get to a 60-point mark, which is more usual? Or are we going to get 53-54 points (for the league winners) as in the other seasons?
"It’s quite tough. But things are going well for us because the players see the kind of product they are building and the matches they are winning. They are playing good football. There’s a message in each of them that this thing is clicking. We just need to be more consistent.”