Steve Komphela hasn’t been as successful since arriving at Kaizer Chiefs over two years ago, but that doesn’t make him a bad coach at all, although he still has a lot to learn, especially from his counterparts.
He faces Clinton Larsen’s team that is yet to lose league match on Saturday, and going into the encounter at the FNB Stadium and beyond, Goal takes a look at what the 50-year-old can learn from the former Orlando Pirates player in order to turn things around at Amakhosi.
KOMPHELA MUST START BELIEVING IN THE UNKNOWN
When Komphela took over from Stuart Baxter in 2015, he inherited a team full of international stars, but the majority of those players soon struggled for form and some left the club for various reasons.
He didn’t have the guts to drop some of these international stars even when they were not performing, and if there’s anything he can learn from Larsen, is to have faith in all his players.
Larsen had Kagisho Dikgacoi in his squad, but he decided to let him go because he wasn’t going to add value to his team for the new season.
Goalkeeper Maximillian Mbaeva wasn’t performing and Larsen relegated him to the bench at the start of the campaign and gave Nkosingiphile Gumede the chance to shine.
Komphela is slowly to break the monotony of relying heavily on his senior players, and over the past few games, he’s introduced players like Wiseman Meyiwa, Hednrick Ekstein and Khotso Malope among others who showed the hunger and determination to fight for the club’s badge.
One of the lessons we’ve learned from Larsen is that you don’t necessarily need big-name players to get positive results, and at a big team like Chiefs where the culture of winning games and lifting trophies should be upheld at all times, every player - big or small, experienced or inexperienced - should be given the opportunity to contribute to the success of the team.
This starts with being able to blend youth with experience and allowing the team to grow together without sidelining other players. Larsen has done a good job in that regard.
The likes of Thabo Molefe and Nduduzo Sibiya have learned the ropes from the more experienced players in the team, and as they have not disappointed, taking the team to the top half of the log.
Chiefs recently promoted Yusuf Bunting to the first team, and if Komphela doesn't throw him into the deep end sooner rather than later, then the 21-year-old striker may end up being another academy graduate on the long list of youngsters who never made it at the club.
If a player is that good to earn a professional contract, then it's the coach's responsibility to play them. And again, Larsen has done well in making these work at Arrows, and the results are there for everyone to see.
ARROWS ARE UNPREDICTABLE UNDER LARSEN
What has made Abafana Bes’thende unstoppable so far this season is their unpredictable nature from team selection to playing different formations depending on their opponents on match days.
Arrows don’t sit back and defend a one-nil lead even against top teams, but they always look for ways to kill off opponents. This was evident against Bidvest Wits where they won 3-1 after going into the interval with the scoreline at 1-1.
They create goalscoring opportunities using their flanks, penetrating through the middle and using set-plays effectively.
Komphela has often been more worried about scoring goals from the training grounds, and Chiefs no longer look threatening in deadball situations, and it is a worrying factor that has also limited their chances of winning matches.
Smart managers look for ways improve their organization, even when things are going well for them. Tweaking your playing system and making changes your starting line-ups confuse opposition teams, while it makes players never to question their roles in the team.
Making changes to the team only when certain players are injured or suspended can divide the squad, and that’s something we saw from Chiefs at the start of the season as Komphela stuck with the same starting line-up that somewhat let him down last term, which almost backfired and put his job on the line after losing two of their opening three matches.
WINNING UGLY IS PART OF FOOTBALL
While playing good football brings confidence into the team, the truth is that it doesn’t always win you games, and Komphela hasn’t really gotten that right.
Fans just want positive results even when the team isn’t playing well, and we saw this when Arrows played Platinum Stars away from in midweek, where they scored a stoppage time penalty to return to the top of the log.
This is achieved by remaining resolute in defence when goals are not coming, and to achieve this, coaches must work on their players’ mental strengths and convince them that they can beat anyone.
If the team is not playing well on a particular day, then the best way is to keep things tight at the back and catch opponents on counter-attacks. On top of that, taking goalscoring chances remains one of the most important aspects of the game.