They say it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only a few minutes to ruin it. Steve Komphela has managed to transform Kaizer Chiefs from traditional Cup Kings to specialists in failure, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
The Glamour Boys enjoyed a fruitful tenure under the tutelage of Stuart Baxter. The Scotsman lifted the PSL and Nedbank Cup title in his first season in charge and repeated a similar feat in his final season at the club, winning the league title again as well as the MTN8 title before parting ways with the club and later joining SuperSport United.
Baxter’s stint at Chiefs wasn’t without drama though. The Scotsman was often the target of criticism from sections of fans claiming that he adopted too much of a defensive approach by the club’s standards.
However, those tactics not only yielded results, but more than that – silverware, something that the Chiefs faithful had been used to.
Fast forward to July 2015, Komphela was unveiled as the man to lead Chiefs after singing a three year deal. I fondly remember some of his comments at the unveiling. In typical Komphela fashion, the former Maritzburg United mentor borrowed a saying from the Bible to highlight quest for glory. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
These words sat well with the Chiefs fans who were adamant that Komphela could not only walk the walk, but talk the talk too. The task ahead, however, would not be easy and Komphela faced a completely different challenge and mandate to that of those at previous clubs, Free State Stars, Platinum Stars and Maritzburg. Komphela would be coaching arguably the biggest team in the country and for a coach who has never won a major trophy in a career spanning more than a decade, this presented an interesting challenge, but also an immediate uphill battle with the fans divided on his appointment.
Although, it was the first time in over two decades that a South African born mentor was handed the reins at Chiefs, but fans were not to be won over as Amakhosi succumbed to defeats in the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout Cup against Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns respectively in Komphela’s first season at the helm. Chiefs struggled in the league campaign and could only muster a fourth-place finish in the league.
The truth is that under the guidance of Komphela, Chiefs have gotten worse and show no signs of reclaiming their glory days. In Komphela’s second season with the club, he finished 15 points behind champions Sundowns and last season, there was a 10-point deficit behind Bidvest Wits.
In the last few seasons Chiefs have become synonymous with under-achieving. Smaller teams no longer fear what was once “The Mighty Amakhosi” whether it be at home or away, while coach Komphela has become more notorious for his long-winded pretentious post-match comments than for his ability to win matches, let alone championships.
Chiefs fans have long been calling for Komphela to be sacked in a bid to return the glory days. The team appears to be a shadow of their former selves and in addition to lacking all-round quality within the roster, the Naturena-based outfit no longer command the same level of respect from the rest of the PSL teams as opposed to previous years.
One wonders what it is that keeps Komphela in the job, considering that he is heading for his third consecutive season without a trophy.
The magnitude of the task at hand for the past three years for Komphela should also be noted. His past coaching experiences were not at institutions as big as that of Chiefs, however having said that, almost three years later – he ought to be able to adapt to his surroundings or be gone!
With Chiefs in a dire straits at the moment due to injuries, lack of a proven goalscorer, over-reliance on Itumeleng Khune and Siphiwe Tshabalala amongst other things – it would be a miracle if Komphela’s current contract, which comes to an end this season is extended.
Amakhosi have a history of being patient with coaches, but often those coaches have repaid the faith shown in them.
After almost three years in charge with no major trophies to show for it, Komphela should no doubt be given the boot if Chiefs are again trophyless come the end of the season.
In fact, at the rate that Chiefs are going at the moment in the league, the club should have already made necessary arrangements for Komphela’s replacement, because there is no way that they are winning the league title this season. I’m willing to bet money on it. Any takers?
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