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COMMENT: Was Steve Komphela ever the right man to lead Kaizer Chiefs?

5:45 pm AEST 22/4/18
Steve Komphela Kaizer Chiefs 2004201
After spending almost three years at the club without a trophy, Komphela proved that he was never the right man for Amakhosi

Kaizer Chiefs look set to appoint a new coach ahead of the upcoming season with Steve Komphela having resigned on Saturday night.

The 50-year-old mentor failed to deliver silverware at Naturena, and his team couldn't get past the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup as they went down to Free State Stars in Durban, and he couldn't wait for his contract to run out as he tendered his resignation immediately after the match. 

He was the first South African-born coach to be given the job on a permanent basis since Trott Moloto in 1994, and expectations were always going to be high, especially after inheriting a team that had just won a league and cup double.

Having spent almost three years at the club, questions have been asked as to whether or not Komphela was ever the right man to lead the Glamour Boys.

It is worth noting that this was Komphela’s biggest break at the so called bigger teams, and Chiefs knew that they were taking a huge gamble by hiring someone who had not won major titles before.

His little success at clubs such as Manning Rangers, Dynamos, Platinum Stars, Free State Stars and Maritzburg United was always not going to be good enough at a big team like Chiefs, and some saw it from the first day he arrived at the club.

The fact that he had never won a major trophy with any of the teams he coached before, and with Chiefs being renowned for their cup pedigree, Komphela’s appointment was never a smart move.

Had Chiefs been struggling prior to Komphela's arrival, perhaps he was going to be the ideal candidate, and now that they are in trouble with their fans, whoever comes in will be under the spotlight as he tries to instill his philosophy and eventually awaken this sleeping giant of South African football.

Komphela’s last season at Maritzburg United saw him record 10 wins, 10 draws and 10 losses in 30 league matches, and clearly that’s not good enough for any team tying to compete for league honours.

Chiefs said at the time of hiring Komphela that they had been monitoring his progress for a while, but if that was the case, they would have known that there was little he would offer the club in terms of trophies.

Komphela is good when it comes to nurturing talent and working with unknown players, and this has been strongest point over the years. He gave the likes of Edward Manqele and Joseph Molangoane a chance when very few people knew about them years ago. 

Even at Chiefs, players like Lorenzo Gordinho and Wiseman Meyiwa among others, were given the chance by Komphela, and he should be commended for that. 

Some players were just too big for him to work with, and it is for this reason Chiefs lost a few of their best players to fellow PSL clubs during Komphela's tenure - these players include Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siyanda Xulu, Siboniso Gaxa and most recently George Lebese.   


Perhaps, Chiefs should have waited for him to prove himself at a club with bigger ambitions before jumping to hire him, especially on the back of Stuart Baxter’s success. 

A few years before Komphela joined Chiefs, Orlando Pirates took a gamble similar to this one by hiring Roger de Sa, and it wasn’t long before their management realised that he was never going to take the club to greater heights after failing on several ocassions to win titles despite reaching more than four cup finals.

Chiefs were supposed to learn from their arch-rivals’ mistakes and look for someone with a better background to that Komphela.

While Komphela is no doubt a hardworking coach, his move to Chiefs came too early. He needed to build a solid foundation by winning a few trophies before agreeing to join his former club as head coach.

Now that he’s failed to deliver league titles despite the backing from his bosses over the past three years, chances are that Chiefs will never give Komphela another chance in future even if he goes on to be successful at a different club.

But how did Muhsin Ertugral get a second chance? Some would ask.

Well, Ertugral achieved more than the previous coaches who came in before him, winning four titles in one season, including the Mandela’s Winners Cup in 2001.

He came back in 2008 and delivered the MTN8 Cup, beating Sundowns in the final; something that Komphela failed to achieve with the quality players he had in his first season in charge.

Chiefs knew that Ertugral was never a man for league titles, but little did they know that Komphela was never a coach for titles, and that’s where they got it wrong.

Baxter had never won anything domestically, but he garnered enough experienced whilst at Bafana Bafana before leaving the post 2006. He had a point to prove upon his return to South Africa in 2012, and it was clear in his first season that he would be successful.

Komphela is surely going to dust himself up and be a successful coach nwo that he's left Chiefs - the same way Eric Tinkler did after leaving Pirates for Cape Town City in 2016.

Tinkler has two major trophies and a Caf Confederation Cup final appearance under his belt since his departure from the Buccaneers, and this proves that he grew as a coach during his time at the Soweto giants.