JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela, the beleaguered Kaizer Chiefs coach still searching for his first major trophy at the club in over two years, was again in a defensive mode when quizzed about the club’s transfer policy, calls for him by the fans to step down and the absence of the new faces at Naturena from his starting line-up so far this season.
Amakhosi are winless in three successive games and the pressure is back on the coach following a 2-1 defeat at home against SuperSport United in an Absa Premiership clash on Wednesday night. There wasn’t much that was new from Komphela’s response to tough questions in his post-match conference, but each word carried weight given the current atmosphere at the club.
He is apparently on borrowed time having finished fifth in his maiden season and then fourth in his second, with Chiefs failing to win any silverware in that time.
“They are good enough,” Komphela said of his four new signings - Teenage Hadebe (currently injured), Bhongolwethu Jayiya, Dumisani Zuma and Philani Zulu. “We are being careful in the way we blend them in because it has to be done in a way that is smooth. But you have to be swift enough so that it doesn’t end up hurting you in that you had all these signings but you never used all of them.
"Very soon you will see there’s going to be a reflection of all of them playing, and you will be wondering when did they start going in. The same happened with (Gustavo) Paez. When he first came we put him in slowly, up until we were hammered for not playing him. When we were comfortable that he can play, he did.”
To use his own description, the Chiefs coach has been “hammered” for applying the same approach and hoping for a different outcome in the sense that he’s not changed a line-up that was incredibly lethargic last season, leading to yet another barren campaign.
But he came to the club’s defence, suggesting that if the recruitment policy was flawed and there was no evidence of being able to attract quality players to a club the size of Chiefs, then he, too, was to blame. And in doing so he was shielding football manager Bobby Motaung and club chairman Kaizer Motaung.
“I am sure we have gone through a list of 20 players, and it is not through our lack of willingness to get these players,” Komphela argued. “There is a player we were looking at and he went to Turkey, and another one went to Greece, the other one to Sweden.
"We are searching, but we want to take the right decision. When you are taking a decision as a coach, you are not taking it in your best interest - it’s long term for the club. If you get a short-term fix and it doesn’t work, then the club has lost money. So you need to have the right player coming in.”
Komphela chose his words carefully when addressing the latest episode from irate fans, who yet again held placards that he must be removed. Chiefs fans believe he is an underachiever who has no business coaching Amakhosi.
“You’ve got to keep going,” Komphela said in a familiar tone from the previous two years he’s been at the helm. “There is one thing you cannot do, and that is bite the hand that feeds you. You’ve got to give them the utmost respect.
"I have not been diplomatic in the last two years. I have just been giving them respect. If you have respect, you will never say things that are reckless. Diplomacy is used in politics, where you twist the arm of the other president.”
The coach faces a defining next couple of weeks as Chiefs travel to Cape Town City on September 13 and host league champions Bidvest Wits three days later. For now, Komphela will hope his side is able to regroup during the international break.