Kaizer Chiefs looked dead and buried when they were hit by injury crisis very early in the season.
However, the absence of some of their key players appears to have somewhat motivated the squad to double their effort whenever they’re given a chance.
It also looks like Steve Komphela is thriving under pressure, because despite these challenges, he has managed to guide Amakhosi to the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout Cup where they will face Bidvest Wits.
One could say, the injury crisis was a blessing in disguise and a test of character for Komphela as he nears the final six months of his existing three-year contract with Chiefs.
But has Komphela done anything right tactically to get this far without some of his stars?
Komphela has been smart when selecting his starting line-ups even though he doesn’t have too many players to choose from given the aforementioned reason.
Benching some of the players who are now doing the job for him earlier this season appears to have worked wonders, because they look hungrier for game time than before.
Siyabonga Ngezana, Philani Zulu and Joseph Molangoane have all impressed and continue to play their hearts out, and that has seen Chiefs concede fewer goals and create more goalscoring chances.
Zulu and Molangoane have both done well as wing-backs, and defensively, they have improved tremendously, probably because they have come to realize that their positions further up the field are already taken, while Ngezana has brought stability at the back and wants to make a name for himself.
The same can be said about Daniel Cardoso, who has flourished in recent times, giving the likes of Erick Mathoho and Lorenzo Gordinho the necessary competition.
Wiseman Meyiwa’s introduction in midfield has also brought smiles on the faces of many Amakhosi fans, and this meant that George Maluleka had to raise his game and fight harder to be in the team as he also looked relaxed. This is what Chiefs needed all along than relying on certain players even when they were off form.
Gustavo Paez didn’t just walk into the Chiefs line-up when he returned from injury, and this goes to show that no one owns a place under Komphela; something that was missing in the past, and took the coach far too long to realize.
Chiefs are well stuctured in how they play recently. There’s synergy and direction, and the energy among the players even when the results are not going their way is unbelievable. Everyone is willing to die for the team, and perhaps that has to do with the fact that a section of club fans gave Komphela a scare on a number of occasions after matches this season.
While we can never be sure what’s really happening behind the scenes at Chiefs, it is highly likely that Komphela cracked the whip and went hard on his players, because in the past, he would always shield them and take responsibility for the team’s struggles, and if that’s the case, he’s definitely doing something right and he will soon reap the rewards.
Consistency remains their biggest challenge, but at this rate, Chiefs look well on track to achieving their objectives, and very soon Komphela’s doubters could be his loyal supporters.
In his last 10 matches in all competitions, Komphela has lost just once – against Baroka FC at the end of September – while Chiefs have racked up five wins under his watch.