JOHANNESBURG – Steve Komphela says his work will speak for him, as the notion that he may find it difficult to coach South Africa’s top clubs grows after a turbulent three years at Kaizer Chiefs.
Yesterday, the current Bloemfontein Celtic trainer was voted Coach of the Month for August by a panel of judges consisting of ex-players and TV pundits.
Celtic have now gone five matches unbeaten in the Absa Premiership - a record held by two other sides in the league - and are second on the table behind league leaders Bidvest Wits.
This stellar start seems to have also given some weight to suggestions that Komphela is better suited to the so-called smaller clubs in the country.
“It’s about how people see it. I am not looking for chances because I am at work,” said the coach, who resigned from his post as Amakhosi coach in April without ever winning any major trophy.
Two months later, he took on a new task at Celtic, and has enjoyed great success since.
“You will never find a diamond in Sandton. You need to look to see a good thing - those who don’t want to will choose not to,” Konphela said.
“I will keep doing my job, whether at Celtic or any other environment. Your work will speak for itself. I can’t go back and point to my track record, that when I worked with the national team we qualified for the World Cup in 2002, qualified for Afcon in Mali, won the Cosafa Cup tournament with the under-20 national team and then we developed players for the 2010 World Cup.
“My man, I don’t do those things.”
Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung bucked the trend of hiring European coaches when Komphela became the club’s first local - and black - coach since Trott Moloto in 1994. Did Komphela ruin it for his countrymen, seeing that Giovanni Solinas, an Italian, replaced him?
“What I want to say won’t come out right. It would need an explanation,” was the 51-year-old’s initial thought.
“But let’s look at the previous two matches at Chiefs. (Khama) Billiat scores two goals - makes a difference. In my opinion I don’t think it is fair to judge in that manner because the approach and the business model differed. What is happening now at Chiefs is an acquisition of a whole lot of 'difference-makers'.
“In my era we looked to build a system of which the outcome would take longer, which I thought would have been this year. Check this, in the 12 draws we played at Chiefs last season, eight of them were 0-0. Get Billiat to score you one goal and you have 16 points, which wins you the league. Good players make good coaches. Sometimes those who build the tree don’t’ always get to enjoy the shade.”
Indeed, Komphela is not a man who holds grudges. He has moved on. Even when Celtic came knocking he had to think long and hard despite being out of a job, he said.
“Football is a disease, a bug and if it bites you there’s no choice. I had been out of the game since the end of April and weeks went by with me watching matches, teams losing coaches, meaning some jobs were available,” Komphela quipped.
“When I did a small audit I realised Celtic could be an interesting project to work on, and again you don’t want to stay away from the game for too long.
“You always need to keep yourself busy. I have not changed anything from the way I used to do things. Of course I have refreshed myself but for a 9.30am session, I am always at work an hour before.
“The planning of the sessions, the drills and the content is still the same.”