DURBAN – The remedy for South Africa’s goal-scoring crisis lies in the academies and in changing the philosophy to adopt an attack-minded approach.
That’s the long-term solution that Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela and his Free State Stars counterpart Luc Eymael shared after their teams drew 1-1 in an Absa Premiership match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at the weekend.
The poor strike-rate in the country’s elite league came to the fore again last week when four midweek clashes ended goalless, followed by two more on Saturday.
When Chiefs scored their second-half equaliser via Bernard Parker on Saturday night, it was their first league goal in four outings.
While Komphela was hesitant to draw the country’s problem into the Amakhosi camp, he agreed with Eymael that academies and youth structures were the places to teach players the correct finishing techniques.
At professional club level, however, there is no quick fix, and coaches must persevere in finding solutions, said the under-fire tactician.
“In a recent report about goal-scoring in South Africa, Luc said he’s been to 138 countries and never seen such a poor scoring return as in South Africa (it was actually Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic who made that statement). I’m not trying to bring South Africa’s problems into Kaizer Chiefs, but it goes back to what he’s saying,” Komphela said.
“As coaches, you can never get tired when you’re working on something. It’s better when you see the problems, so that you can work on the solutions.
“Some say goal-scorers are born. When you see so many millions are spent to buy a player like (Didier) Drogba, it shows how desperate clubs are and how scarce these top strikers are. We have to keep working on our strikers tactically, technically and in their decision-making.
“As a striker, if you’re not calm, it talks to your emotional state, and that is influenced by how you think. If you are desperate, anxious, not confident and lacking composure, then you won’t score.
“As coaches, we have to be persistent and patient. Goal-scoring is not an easy problem to solve, and it’s not only a Chiefs problem.”
Belgian Eymael pointed to his country’s rise internationally and said they adopted an attacking philosophy focused on youth players.
Whereas at Stars he often grapples with explaining certain basics to his players, this can be avoided if players are taught the fundamentals in academies.
“In Belgium, in the academy, a striker plays the first half as a striker and in the second half as a playmaker, so that he learns about the different positions. For example, a winger will switch to right back in the second half so he can learn.
“You can’t imagine how many times, until now, I correct Patrick Phungwayo in the matter of crossing. Can you imagine he went to Greece?
“His body is not well placed, his leg which is not touching the ball is not well placed – the small technical details are not there because players are not taught at the academy. That is why here, you have players who mature at 24 years,” elaborated Eymael.
Komphela said he was happy with the support he received from the club in acquiring players, but added that if the coaches’ efforts were not bearing fruit, then they would have to look elsewhere.