JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela credits faith for his strength to stomach the insults and criticism thrown at him throughout his tenure without being side-tracked from the job at hand.
That criticism grows louder after each disappointment. It went up a notch following Chiefs’ failure to win their opening Absa Premiership game for a third season in a row after they drew 1-1 with Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday at Free State Stadium.
That result was made worse by the fact that it came a week after Amakhosi were eliminated from the MTN8 by SuperSport United. Komphela can’t afford another setback as Chiefs prepare to host Matsatsantsa at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.
“In this job you have to deal with it tata (father),” Komphela said. “Whether you like it or not, leadership is not only about getting sweet stuff. Even the late Nelson Mandela went through difficulties.
"If you and I had gone 27 years (in prison) we would have probably committed suicide or lost hope. He kept faith. If you’re a leader, you must have faith. The worst case scenario is that if, where you are, you don’t get exactly what you think you deserve, it’s preparations for the next platform.
"You must accept the challenge and live with it. You only get better through fire and what you’re going through could be preparing you for the next challenge which you don’t know.”
The theme of hardship preparing you for the next challenge has been a recurring feature in Komphela’s utterances lately, which could hint at him having accepted that he won’t go beyond his third season at Chiefs unless something drastic happens. Komphela speaks in codes, hardly being direct to allow people to draw their own conclusions.
“No (I am not talking about leaving the club when I mention the next platform). I am talking about struggles and challenges (in general),” Komphela said. “Mandela’s next platform was the presidency. How many of you thought that a prisoner could be a president? None.
"As he was going through the struggle and hell there, we were all here fighting for the course. What happened when he came back? Was he out there seeking revenge? He didn’t. He showed that sometimes you’ve got to be born with this.
"As it happens (the struggles) accept it and when you are at a position of strength and tranquillity, don’t look back and want to revenge. You move on and even bring those who took you through the process of being polished.”