It took three trophyless seasons, two vandalised stadiums and one massive blow to the Kaizer Chiefs brand to get rid of Steve Komphela, but was he to blame, or is he just the fall guy? MARSHALL GOUTS explores.
Many eyebrows and questions were raised when Kaizer Motaung unveiled Komphela as the man to lead Chiefs in July 2015. This, after he categorically deemed that no South African coach was good enough to coach Chiefs or Orlando Pirates.
Nonetheless, Komphela became the first South African-born coach to land the gig on a permanent basis since Trott Moloto in 1994.
Prior to his arrival, the Soweto giants enjoyed a successful spell under the tutelage of experienced mentor Stuart Baxter.
Baxter guided Chiefs to the PSL and Nedbank Cup titles in his first season and repeated a similar feat in his final season at the club, winning the league title again as well as the MTN8 title before moving on to SuperSport United.
Looking at Komphela’s coaching record prior to his arrival at Chiefs, the Glamour Boys took a massive gamble by handing the reins to a man who never won a major trophy in his managerial career, which spanned more than a decade.
The former Bafana Bafana captain would go on to make unwanted history in his three-year spell with Chiefs, but is Komphela solely to blame for Chiefs’ deterioration from traditional cup kings to specialists in failure?
The answer is plain and simple. No, he isn’t. Blame needs to be shouldered by both management and players at the Naturena-based outfit for a number of below-par performances over the past few seasons.
For way too long, Chiefs have appeared toothless, relying on the excellence of individuals: Itumeleng Khune, Willard Katsande and Siphiwe Tshabalala. Adding to this fact is that smaller teams no longer fear what was once ‘The Mighty Amakhosi’ whether it be at home or away, as seen in Chippa United’s 3-0 drubbing of Chiefs at the FNB Stadium, which led to the first wave of fan violence at Chiefs.
Bobby Motaung should have fired Steve Komphela long time ago but because of his stubbornness fans had to resort to violence to be heard.
— Garvey (@iAmKingducer) April 22, 2018
The Amakhosi faithful have suffered for too long under the club’s insistence on managing the Chiefs brand like a family business, with the best interest of their own pockets at heart.
Myself, with many other people, are of the opinion that the club’s management style is largely to blame for Chiefs’ downfall.
It is highly publicised that football manager Bobby Motaung’s influence in the team extends beyond the corporate scene, into the transfer market and inevitably into the dressing room of the Soweto giants. I even once recall the football manager barking instructions at the Chiefs players during the Carling Black Label Cup spectacle against Orlando Pirates. Where does it end?
I’m not aware of the clause(s) and/or details of Komphela’s contract with Chiefs, but one thing is for sure. Combined with the potential stubbornness of the high head(s) within the Chiefs hierarchy, the whole journey which led to Komphela’s eventual resignation was an energy-sapping, tedious and unnecessary process for fans of the Amakhosi.
Opposition fans loved Komphela as much as Chiefs fans despised him and with every match lost, post-match interview and season gone without a trophy. Chiefs, and their fans were ridiculed, becoming the butt of every joke on social media, with Komphela’s face being associated with all sorts of memes.
The Motaungs may have wanted to save face with the fans in the hope of Komphela eventually ending his trophy drought or they may have wanted to save a penny or two by letting him see out the duration of his contract, instead of having to pay him out.
Whatever the thinking behind the decision was, it backfired dismally.
Chiefs fans will be expecting their team to come out rejuvenated following the departure of Komphela, but it will honestly take more than just the exit of a cog in the machine to shake things up at a club of that magnitude, where control is somewhat limited.
Although boardroom changes are needed, it won’t happen in a hurry as the owners are known to play happy family.
Follow on Twitter @MarshallGouts