Steve Komphela took charge of his 100th official game as head coach of Kaizer Chiefs against Polokwane City on Saturday, and everything went according to plan as his side walked away 2-1 winners on the night.
Of the 100 games in charge, Komphela won 42 [including the 3-0 walkover against Volcan de Moroni in February 2016], drew 34 and suffered defeats 24 times.
By reaching a century of games as the Amakhosi coach, Komphela emulated his predecessor, Stuart Baxter, who also managed over 100 official matches during his three-year stay at Naturena.
Not every football expected Komphela to stay this long on the job given his lack of ‘success’ which has seen the Glamour Boys go two-and-a-half seasons without a major trophy.
However, this is an achievement on its own, and Komphela deserves to be celebrated.
Goal takes a look at the highs and lows of the 50-year-old’s period at Chiefs so far.
FIRST SA-BORN COACH SINCE 1994
When the Chiefs management hired Komphela in June 2015, they knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for him to emulate Baxter. The appointment came on the back of a season which saw them lift two major trophies, but they took their chances and stuck with their decision.
Being the first South African coach to get the Amakhosi job on a permanent basis since Trott Moloto in 1994 was a huge success on its own, and he’s had to prove to the majority of football fans around the country that SA-born coaches have what it takes to coach a big team like Chiefs.
That was the beginning of a tough journey, and many didn’t think he will see out his three-year contract, which is now over five months away from expiring.
TWO CUP FINALS IN HIS FIRST SEASON
While it is true that history doesn’t remember losers, Komphela can still be proud of his first season at the helm where he reached two cup finals less than six months after his appointment.
It looked so promising for him that a few of his detractors were beginning to claim him as their own. It was unfortunate for him lose the two finals – a 1-0 loss to Ajax Cape Town in the MTN8 courtesy of Nathan Paulse’s penalty as well as the 3-1 Telkom Knockout Cup final defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns where Chiefs missed two penalties in open play.
UNLEASHING YOUNGSTERS FROM DEVELOPMENT
If there’s anything Komphela should be applauded for is believing in younger players, especially those from the club’s development.
Other coaches who came in before him hardly gave certain players a fair chance to flourish at Chiefs, and the majority of those players left without even kicking a ball.
A player like Lorenzo Gordinho was promoted during the 2013/14 season, but he was sitting on three appearances in all competitions at the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
Komphela gave him, and many others such as Hendrick Esktein, Reyaad Pieterse and Emmanuel Letlotlo the chance they deserved, and they hardly put a foot wrong.
Recently, Bruce Bvuma, Wiseman Meyiwa, Siyabonga Ngezana and Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya have all been given a run in the first team, thanks to Komphela’s bravery, even during times when he appeared to be edging closer to the exit door.
TWO SEASONS WITHOUT A TROPHY
It is unacceptable for a team of Amakhosi’s stature to go over two seasons without a major trophy, and if there’s anything Komphela should feel disappointed about, it’s his inability to deliver silverware so far.
This has obviously made him unpopular among the club fans, and some have already called for the club to fire him should he fail to win at least one of the two remaining trophies on offer this season.
Komphela’s bosses have already admitted that things have not gone according to plan in terms of winning trophies, but they are willing to continue supporting the coach until the last day of his contract.
LACK OF QUALITY SIGNINGS
Chiefs made huge mistakes in the transfer market since Komphela’s arrival in 2015. One wonders how hands-on the coach was in bringing some of the players to the club.
The likes of Enocent Mkhabela, Camaldine Abraw, Sula Matovu and Bongani Ndulula among others, were never supposed to be signed by Chiefs.
Had Komphela identified areas that needed to be reinforced at the time, and then his second season could have been much better. He is partly to blame for the club's inability to sign quality players.
THREE ASSISTANTS IN THREE SEASONS
A team is a reflection of its leadership, and Komphela would look back at his tenure and say, ‘I made some bad choices’. The chopping and changing of assistant coaches has somewhat derailed his progress at Chiefs.
He first worked with Doctor Khumalo, but the Amakhosi legend lasted for a single season, and was replaced by the inexperienced John Paintsil the following season.
The former Black Stars captain also lasted for a year at Chiefs, and the management, in consultation with Komphela of course, appointed Patrick Mabedi. This is proof enough that there’s no stability in the Chiefs technical team, and perhaps one of the factors he hasn't won a major trophy for the club.