Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela speaks to reporters at Naturena on Monday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Steve Komphela defended his description of Free State Stadium’s pitch as “pathetic”, arguing he was merely stating a fact and not offering an excuse for Kaizer Chiefs’ failure to win.

Amakhosi started their Absa Premiership season without a win for a third successive season under Komphela.

Chiefs drew with Chippa United in their opening match of Komphela’s first campaign, and last season they lost to eventual champions Bidvest Wits.

Their 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday was harder to swallow for those associated with the club as it came a week after Amakhosi were eliminated from the MTN8 in the first round.

Komphela lambasted the pitch on TV after the match, a move that was seen as him deflecting Chiefs’ struggle to start with a win, even though the grass was a bit thick for a football match as the venue hosted a Currie Cup game eight days before this encounter.

“I admitted that it was a poor result and it shouldn’t have been,” Komphela said.

“But again, when you are asked a question, are you not going to point at a reality? If realities come across as excuses, you still have to say it. For those who take it as excuses, okay. We’ll have to live with it.

Siphiwe Tshabalala lines up a shot for Kaizer Chiefs against Celtic on a pitch Steve Komphela said his players described as “sticky”. Photo: Frikkie Kapp, BackpagePix

“But those who want to know what exactly happened, you’ll have to be honest with them. You can’t fail to tell them what happened when you know exactly happened for the sake (of being worried that people will say) you are coming up with excuses. As I always say, we always take full responsibility.”

Komphela continued: “In fact, let me for the first time use ‘I’. I take full responsibility (for that draw). There’s no explanation on that.

“But again, are we doing any service to the game (by playing on such a pitch)? People pay their money to go and watch football, and you get a stadium like that one.

“I mean, have you ever seen Manchester United play Stoke City at Twickenham (immediately after a rugby match)?

“After rugby has been played, you can’t (immediately) play soccer. Players gave us feedback. When they came back from doing their warm-up, they were saying that the pitch is sticky, and I knew that we had a problem.

“Even before we went to the park for the beginning of the match, I told them to make sure that they have the right boot. If need be, bring a second boot. It’s a problem.

The lush grass covering at the Free State Stadium is visible as Celtic goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb receives medical treatment. Photo: Frikkie Kapp, BackpagePix

“Do you then keep quiet because you are going to face insults when the truth and reality is there? Say the reality to those who want to know exactly what happened.

“But for those who say that it’s an excuse, I don’t know how to respond to that. You can’t respond to that. But the fact remains, there’s a difference between FNB Stadium and that ground. There’s a huge difference.”


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