Kaizer Chiefs dropped two important points yet again as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bidvest Wits on Saturday night, and the result further highlighted the club’s inability win games consistently, even with the two quality players they brought in during the January transfer window.
The draw at the Bidvest Stadium was Amakhosi’s second in as many weeks, and fingers continue to point at Steve Komphela and his technical team for leaving their marquee signings on the bench at this crucial stage of the season.
Soon after the start of the campaign, Komphela complained about not having enough quality strikers in his team, and when Leonardo Castro and Siphelele Ntshangase were signed, the majority of Amakhosi fans expected the coach to fill that void by playing them.
Recent results haven’t been that bad for Chiefs, but they have not been good enough either because Mamelodi Sundowns are winnning their games and continue to stretch their lead at the top of the PSL table, and Komphela's chances of winning his maiden league title are getting slimmer every week.
For starters, Castro and Ntshangase don't deserve to be on the bench, especially having featured as substitutes on a number of occasions - they should now be familiar with their new teammates given the limited amount of time Komphela has on his hands.
Of course one understands that there are dynamics involved when introducing new players into a new team, but the coach’s decision to leave his best players on the bench raises a few eyebrows, and he could leave to regret the number of points Chiefs have dropped come May 2018.
In the three games that Castro and Ntshangase have played so far, they showed just why Komphela needs them in his starting line-ups, but the 50-year-old mentor is taking time to realize their importance to the team.
At this stage, Komphela appears to be shooting himself in the foot, and by the time he starts using Castro and Ntshangase on a regular basis, it may be too late for him to either save his job or deliver silverware.
Mind you, this is his final season with Chiefs, and Komphela’s future depends solely on the two trophies that are on offer this season.
His failure to win at least one of the two trophies on offer - PSL and Nedbank Cup - could force the club bosses to let him go at the end of his contract in June 2018, and he would have no one to blame but himself. He is spoiled for choice in the attacking third, but he still not brave enough to drop those who've not been consistent enough in the last two-and-a-half seasons.
Some would argue that the management took too long to get Komphela the right players, and yes, that's a fair argument, but when they signed Castro and Ntshangase, the team was still very much in the title race. They have dropped four points in their last two matches which would have seen them stay within touching distance of Sundowns.
Chiefs now find themselves seven points behind the log leaders with 10 league games to go; that's 30 points to play for and they're certainly not going to win all their remaining games. At this stage, they can only finish the season with 61 points, but is that even possible? I don't think so.
This past weekend, Komphela said he'd have to sacrifice both Ryan Moon and Siphiwe Tshabalala for Castro and Ntshangase respectively. This means, his intention is to continue with the same players and the same formation for the foreseeable future.
Does this mean the Castro and Ntshangase aren’t good enough to be handed starting berths in the team? If so, why were they signed in the first place if they’re not better than what Komphela currently has at his disposal?
There might be suggestions comparing Komphela’s situation to that of Pitso Mosimane, with Jeremy Brockie, Gaston Sirino and Aubrey Ngoma all new to the team and still struggling to cement their places in the team, but the Sundowns coach made it clear that the three players were signed as long-term replacements for those who could be leaving the club in the near future and also for the upcoming Caf Champions League campaign.
For Komphela, this is a make-or-break season, and he should be going all out without fear or favour. Unless of course, he's been told to build for the upcoming campaign by utilizing both Castro and Ntshangase sparingly, because these are experienced players who don't need any introduction to South African football.