JOHANNESBURG - Steve Komphela and Gavin Hunt, two coaches who are finding it difficult to get their sides to pick up some momentum in the season so far, agreed at the weekend that the Premier Soccer League is demanding following a 1-1 draw at FNB Stadium.
Komphela’s Kaizer Chiefs had taken the lead just before the hour mark against a Bidvest Wits team that had been reduced to 10-man before half-time when rightback Nazeer Allie was shown a second yellow card, but failed to hold on to it as striker Amr Gamal scored a last-gasp goal to force a stalemate.
The Amakhosi coach has tried to maintain a level of consistency with his selection four games into the league campaign, although lengthy injuries to fullbacks Tsepo Masilela and Ramahlwe Mphahlele have forced him into making changes.
His Wits counterpart Hunt has been chopping and changing from the first kick of the ball as he tries to make room for his new signings, but that has come at a cost with the Clever Boys now winless in seven matches - from open play - in all competitions.
“I think when you play three games in six days it shows that the PSL is demanding,” said Hunt a remark to which Komphela nodded in agreement before uttering the words “unbelievable” as his opposite number attempted to explain the Clever Boys’ poor start.
“In the PSL, the players move faster than the ball. Anywhere else in the world it’s the ball that moves faster. I told the players at the beginning of the week that this is what we are going to do (rotate the team), but it obviously went pear-shaped on Wednesday night (when Wits were thumped 3-1 by Golden Arrows). So I didn’t look too clever there,” Hunt continued.
“But they pretty much knew we were going to do that. Of course we want some consistency, like they way Steve did it by winning on Wednesday (away to Cape Town City) and he put the same team out against us. I would love that.
"When we played football, Steve at Fairways Stars (now Free State Stars) and in my Hellenic days, there were 14 players in the squad and we played more games than the players do these days. And you could name the teams. That’s all changed - you’ve got to rotate them and play a little bit of horse for courses, I think.”
Although Hunt’s only win in the current season has come from a penalty shoot-out and the defence of their Premier League title has gotten off to an unimaginable start, it’s actually Komphela who is facing more heat. It’s built up because of Amakhosi’s barren two years so far at the club coach, having arrived at Naturena with Chiefs the reigning league champions.
“I thought overall we did well, but it (the result) could have been better based on the fact that we were one-man up,” Komphela said in his post-match comments. “The logic behind any team that goes a man down is that they start to focus more, concentrate more and give more.
"There is more discipline because you know there is a lot that you need to cover. When you have 11, people just take on their responsibility. We should have killed the game by getting a second goal.”
Chiefs will travel to the Harry Gwala Stadium to face Maritzburg United, who are unbeaten in four league matches, on Wednesday night. Wits also have a tricky fixture away from home against AmaZulu.