JOHANNESBURG – Three seasons without a trophy at a club as big as Kaizer Chiefs is failure, any self-respecting football fan knows that. Steve Komphela, however, sees things very differently.
Komphela resigned as Chiefs coach in a huff late on Saturday night after a 2-0 defeat to Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup semi-final ensured his three-year tenure at Naturena would end without any silverware.
Incredibly though, the man who turned out for the same Chiefs back in his time as a player, believes he fulfilled what was expected of him.
“In terms of the plan, I can say confidently without any arrogance that I’ve done what is required,” Komphela said at the post match conference without flinching.
And what was that plan?
To build a team for the future for Amakhosi, he reasoned.
“From the results point of view, you will say that (he has failed). But in terms of what the plan was - except the results - I think I need to be very humble. I don’t want to come across as arrogant. Maybe the future will testify,” Komphela philosophised.
“I strongly believe it is very difficult to win trophies when you are forming a generation. But when that generation performs, you will look back and say, hmmm it looks nice; I’m familiar with those faces.”
Part of that future generation includes players such as Wiseman Meyiwa, Lucky Ngezana and Siphosakhe Ntiyantiya whom he promoted to the senior team.
“It is important that when you get into an institution, when you leave you don’t leave it in the dust bin. I think, to an extent, as I leave Kaizer Chiefs, there’s a framework. There’s something to work from,” Komphela said, reiterating that he leaves the club in a better space and in no doubt that he gave it his all.
“I’m happy with the integrity, responsibility and the work that I put in since my first day at Chiefs. I have never been late by a second, I’ve always been the first one in and the last one out.”
For all his explanation about how well he has done, the former Bafana Bafana captain and assistant coach did - to his credit - at least acknowledge that not delivering a trophy was failure on his part.
“In terms of results - which are key in football, they are top of the box, they are No 1 - I think there one can say No, No we did not achieve.”
The best the coach who had essentially made his name at coaching 'smaller teams' - Dynamos, Manning Rangers, Free State Stars and Maritzburg United - into punching above their weights, was take Amakhosi to two cup finals which they both lost.
He does find it a little sad though that failure to win trophies is allowed to mask the good work he has done.
And he put it in his usual philosophical way.
“Football is about results. I remember speaking to one of my colleagues some time back, a very reputable guy, and he says you can go play MTN8, win three matches and have a medal hanging on the wall. And by a certain standard you’ve achieved.”
He then countered: “But there are certain amounts of work you do that you cannot point at and justify. Only the future will tell.”
He gave his reasoning about the high turnover of assistant coaches during his time.
“I thought I knew the combination of forming a team and getting it to perform and excelling but that comes with lots of risks,” he said in reference to his having had Doctor Khumalo, John Pantsil and Patrick Mabedi as his seconds in charge.
“We kept going for three years. I wonder how many of my colleagues would have stood the pressure we had to endure because we knew the process we were on,” Komphela elaborated before explaining why he quit. “
Looking at how things have happened now, you have to be very realistic and say No, in the best interest of everyone's safety and everybody let’s rather allow the process to unfold and move on.”