DURBAN - The best teams don’t always win, and when that happens the lesson for the victor is to count his blessings while the loser must remain focused on the positives in order to bounce back.
Kaizer Chiefs bagged three points midweek at Maritzburg United where goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune earned the Man of the Match award for the third successive outing, highlighting the fact that it was far from a one-sided showing.
Chiefs coach Steve Komphela praised the opposition, and his No 1 shot-stopper, for a pulsating showing which took the Amakhosi to fourth place. They are three points behind surprise leaders Golden Arrows, Baroka and Orlando Pirates who stand on 11 points after five fixtures.
“It’s good, he has to rise with the qualities he’s got. You need players like that so they can inspire the team,” said Komphela of Khune’s heroics in the 2-0 win where he also saved a penalty at the death after Gustavo Paez’s double gave them a healthy lead.
With a plethora of injuries to regulars like Ramahlwe Mphahlele, George Maluleka and Tsepo Masilela, Chiefs gave debuts to midfielders Wiseman Meyiwa and Khotso Malope in recent outings.
Komphela was happy to ride through the setbacks and register their second win with a work-in-progress performance.
“We are working. Results are the determining factor and we are happy with what we have so that our people can be more confident and happier," Komphela said.
"We’re delighted with the victory, the players worked very hard against a very good Maritzburg team. Results will help us because the ultimate is to win things. Winning gives confidence but there’s still lots of room for improvement.
“Sometimes when you have too many options you tend to take the wrong one, and when you’re limited you box clever. So could it be we need to be as thin as this so that we can be spot on with decisions?
"Sometimes the universe, the energy does talk to you as well. Now when you have so much luxury to decide on your own, even if the universe assists you, you tend to do the opposite. With limited resources we’re sitting with it looks like we are in line with what is happening, so one can only hope that when they come back they can take us higher."
Besides injuries, Chiefs were dealt a blow late last month when their goalkeeper coach Alex Revoredo died. Khune dedicated his award to the Brazilian trainer, and Komphela added to those sentiments.
“Alex’s spirit is still with us. We still say his mantras, the stuff he used to say in the dressing room. It’s sad to say this but maybe we needed to go through this tragedy to find ourselves. It’s sad that after losing such a wonderful soul these performances are coming. We hope it is him guiding us through,” Komphela said.
The loss for Maritzburg was their first in the league. Although disappointed with the result, coach Fadlu Davids praised his charges’ display, and believed it was good that the bubble of invincibility had been burst, so that players could be grounded for the upcoming challenge against Free State Stars next Friday.
In inimitable style Komphela also offered words of encouragement for the league’s youngest coach. “We played against a very intelligent coach. We only wish he stays like that as sharp as possible. Even in his prayers he must pray for more wisdom because we can’t lose brains like this in South African football.”