You don’t get a medal for being top of the table at Christmas, but Absa Premiership coaches know the axe is always hovering if their teams aren’t convincing enough as title contenders at the halfway mark.
While Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung is anything but a trigger-happy club boss, Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela is now walking a tightrope following a fourth successive league match without a win (five in all competitions) having only managed a 1-1 draw against another championship challenger in SuperSport United on Wednesday night at the FNB Stadium.
In what was arguably their best first half performance this season, Chiefs showed great courage to come from a goal down when it took George Lebese just seconds to cancel out Thabo Mnyamane’s 30th minute strike. But the second half display is one that will linger in memory for Amakhosi before they host high-flying Cape Town City, who are joint top of the log with Bidvest Wits, at the same venue on Tuesday night.
Komphela did not directly address questions around his job security as a fraction of Chiefs fans again booed the coach as he walked off the pitch, a repeat of the scenes at several of the club’s home games last season when the Glamour Boys surrendered their title to Mamelodi Sundowns and finished the campaign in an embarrassing fifth place. With Wednesday night’s stalemate, Chiefs remained in fifth position on the league standings – four points adrift of the leaders.
“Whether I like it or not, by just being at Chiefs, a draw is not good enough,” said Komphela. “You just have to keep winning and obviously where I am sitting I know there’s still a lot of work to be done. I still have to focus on my work, focus on my job. Unfortunately, I can’t look back and regret it. I just have to learn from the past because I won’t be able to move on if I keep looking backwards.”
He added that he’d reverted back to using a more familiar formation against SuperSport instead of the 3-4-3 style that has invited criticism because of the two defeats against Free State Stars and Sundowns, with the results were obviously not in his side’s favour. Chiefs have now conceded five goals in three matches and their defence has come under scrutiny again even though Komphela appeared to have found a consistent back four when goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune managed to keep seven successive clean sheets until the loss to Stars in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals two weeks ago.
There’s also a problem upfront, despite Michelle Katsvairo being lively each time he’s on the ball. The Zimbabwean striker, who was signed from Chicken Inn in his home country before the start of the season, has scored once in 10 matches in all competitions and continues to lead the line for Amakhosi.
“In my opinion, strikers are as good as their confidence,” said Komphela when asked for his thoughts on the lack of end product from Katsvairo. “You will never find a striker who lacks confidence, but can go for an overhead kick or hit the ball first time. If his confidence is low, he will always want to make sure he gets things right. So you work on such aspects, but it is very difficult to work on the mental aspect. He runs well, holds the ball well and the only thing that can give him more confidence is scoring goals.”
Komphela himself could do with some confidence.
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