JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela left the pitch at the FNB Stadium on Saturday unflinching and stone-faced despite a barrage of missiles thrown at him after the club’s heaviest defeat in the league in almost a decade.
Amakhosi players formed a protective guard around their coach to shield him from the missiles that ranged from water bottles to vuvuzelas. But the players ducked and dived to protect their heads while the unlucky ones got one bottle or two.
Leonardo Castro stopped in his tracks as the intensity of the missiles grew. But Komphela showed no emotions and didn’t even try to avoid the projectiles.
“You can’t be oblivious,” Komphela said, after the 3-0 loss to Chippa United. “There are certain things that you prepare yourself for, any preparation is obviously mental. The fans are not happy. Chiefs have never lost 3-0 in the way we lost. You can’t explain it.
"You have to be strong enough to understand that it’s not going to be an easy one. Do we expect to come out here with them throwing roses at us? It would be unfair of us (to expect that after such a performance).”
Komphela continued, “When they react like this, you take it and say listen - this is an opportunity for us not to lose but learn so that we do better. I can’t run away from this. I am not the kind of guy who runs away from responsibility.
"If you are proud, and are a proud person, sacrifice and responsibility are the next logical components you have to embrace. You have to be brave and face it. If I run away, what should happen to the players?
"My responsibility is to see to it that I own up, help and protect the players, see to it that things get stable. You just have to go on. If you are going through whatever, it means you deserve it, so go through it. It could be a learning process.
"You just carry on with your job. You can’t run away. Maybe we should go for bravery management because some people go through anger management.”
Komphela has faced hostile Chiefs fans a number of times in his tenure. The pattern is the same, Amakhosi go through a bad run, the fans get angry, they chant “Steve Must Go!” and then throw missiles onto the field. Saturday’s act of hooliganism came due to the club’s slim hopes of winning the Absa Premiership diminishing.
“The backlash is part of the game, it comes with the territory. If you are a coach, you must face it,” Komphela said. “The way out of it is to come together. You can’t imagine a scenario where the outside world is blowing cold wind and you’re opening cracks. Then you will have problems.
"Sometimes when something bad happens from outside, it brings you together. You can even go back to South Africa. At the back of a huge challenge that we were facing as a nation, the nation was together. In the absence of an enemy, it then brought us up in arms against each other. This analogy applies everywhere.”
Komphela continued, “Can we then use this result to bring us together and maybe push us in the semifinal (of the Nedbank Cup)? It could be. You shouldn’t allow your emotions to be too negative, it will deflate you.
"Stay positive. Read! Get something that will give you positive energy. Read something that is slightly outside without moving away from the facts that are facing you. Then you will get energy because tomorrow you have to get to the field to inspire players. The one who inspires must be inspired. You can’t go there and the players see that this guy is dejected. It shouldn’t be. But I am okay.”