JOHANNESBURG – Amakhosi fans were again asking questions of coach Steve Komphela, subjecting him to their own version of the Rivonia Trial after he’d compared himself to Nelson Mandela on Monday morning, following a 2-1 defeat to SuperSport United on Wednesday night.
Komphela was hoping to put the challenges of the past weekend behind him as Kaizer Chiefs went in search of their first win of this new Absa Premiership season, having only managed a draw away to Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday.
When quizzed about the poor start, which had sent club supporters into a bit of a meltdown, the coach said leaders, like the late Mandela, are never known to lose faith in tough circumstances.
The opening minutes of this home league fixture against SuperSport United presented yet another obstacle.
Just seven minutes into the encounter, defender Mulomowandau Mathoho was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle on striker Bradley Grobler, who was through on goal.
Referee Daniel Bennett correctly sent Mathoho for an early shower, leaving Chiefs with an uphill battle playing with 10 men so early on.
Grobler didn’t immediately punish Chiefs from the resulting free kick just outside the box, but Aubrey Modiba did so a few minutes later.
Amakhosi were stretched, as expected given the numerical disadvantage, and SuperSport made it count when Dove Wome set up Modiba, who connected with the cross and headed the ball over goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo to break the deadlock.
Komphela reacted – but not with the kind of tactical change you would expect.
The Chiefs coach withdrew defender Lorenzo Gordinho by bringing on another centreback in Daniel Cardoso.
So often in these scenarios, coaches move quickly to reorganise their shape by sacrificing an attacking player for a defensive-minded one.
Not Komphela – and his decision was met with disapproval by the Chiefs fans.
Where's the security? "Sign players", they cry. pic.twitter.com/jhLGDrOipr
Gordinho was struggling, but maybe he should have been given more time to pull up his socks instead of his place being taken by Cardoso and midfield hardman Willard Katsande asked to do his dirty work in central defence.
The choice made even less sense when left back Tsepo Masilela pulled up injured second later, and his place had to be taken by debutant Philani Zulu. Chiefs had made three changes in defence just minutes apart.
The visitors made them pay on the stroke of halftime when Grobler finally got his name on the score-sheet.
And it was in midfield, where Katsande’s absence was evident, that young Teboho Mokoena was able to win possession and deliver a champagne pass to the striker to clinically put away to give SuperSport a 2-0 lead at the break.
Chiefs looked more solid in the second half, pressing their opponents by using their wing play to good effect.
The result was a goal from Gustavo Paez, the Venezuelan getting at the end of goalmouth mêlée to pull one back.
SuperSport held on for their first win in the league following an opening defeat at the hands of their Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns, while Chiefs are currently at the tail-end of the log table, having managed a single point from their two matches.
Amakhosi were also booted out of the MTN8 by SuperSport in Durban two weeks ago.