JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela was pressed for an answer on his gameplan for Saturday's Soweto Derby in order for Kaizer Chiefs to take down Orlando Pirates, but the Amakhosi coach wouldn’t take the lure, playing his cards very close to his chest.
He’s come off the back of an impressive 2-1 Absa Premiership win on Tuesday night against the reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, while the Buccaneers laboured to a 1-1 share of the spoils when they hosted struggling Platinum Stars a day later.
“There is a surprise in it for everyone,” said Komphela on Thursday afternoon.
His tactics away to Sundowns were praised, especially given that Chiefs had to adapt to an injury crisis that meant as many as five defenders were unavailable.
One of them could be back, which would probably force Komphela to tweak his approach again, but he simply wouldn’t say who it was, only offering a smile.
Could it be just mind games?
“I think everyone wants to know whether we are playing the same team. We want to give the same performance. I think that would be the appropriate answer,” the Amakhosi coach said. “Some people will tell you that if it isn’t broke, then why fix it? And again others will tell you to bring an element of surprise, and there could be.”
Chiefs took about 10 minutes to settle against Sundowns in their midweek game, but were effective as soon as they did and the result - and a move up the log table - was evidence.
They face a Pirates side that would not have been as easy to plan for at FNB Stadium, and Komphela made mention of this even in his jibe that he’d come up against several coaches (Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic being the fifth) in charge of the same club in the three years that he’s been at Chiefs.
“It's now complicated by the fact that Micho is new and Pirates have not played the same way. There’s a stage where they played five at the back, then on Wednesday they played four. You can’t underestimate the thinkers there,” said Komphela.
“But they also don’t know whether we are going to play three centrebacks (as they did against Sundowns) or two. Let them deal with it. Then we will have to solve the problem on the pitch.
"There are two types of coaches - those who go into a match with a plan and knowing exactly what’s going to happen, but lacking the ability to respond to problems that are live. And there are coaches who can respond to things on the field and solve them immediately. You need people that can solve things as they happen.”
There is only a point separating the Soweto rivals going into their weekend fixture after eight league games.
Chiefs would reduce the gap on log leaders Baroka FC, who host champions Bidvest Wits on Sunday, if they win, while victory for Pirates would put them level with the surprise early pace setters.
Komphela certainly has the edge in the lead up to the derby because of the morale boosting win earlier in the week and the fact that he’s been involved in eight matches against Pirates.
His opposite number hasn’t tasted one since first spell with the Buccaneers in 2006, and the deflating draw on Wednesday forces them to take the underdog tag, even though both sides have been far from convincing this season.