Who is the Chiefs culprit for the club's shame?
In the wake of Saturday's violence, many will point to coach Komphela's poor performance, but the problems run far deeper
Steve Komphela’s reign as Kaizer Chiefs coach ended in violence and mayhem at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night as hooligans masquerading as football fans lit fires, beat up defenceless security personnel and caused millions of rands in damage, all in the name of the Soweto club.
It is a bitter irony that the team’s motto is “Love and Peace”, because that has been in short supply in recent weeks, with the warning signs there for all to see when fans turned violent after the 3-0 loss to Chippa United earlier in the month.
Most Chiefs supporters will be appalled by both incidents, but others have taken quickly to social media to blame both Komphela and the club’s football manager, Bobby Motaung.
But whatever frustrations there may have been at the team’s lack of success on the trophy front, such scenes can never be condoned.It will be hugely worrying for authorities that there is an element of violence creeping back into the South African game in a month in which the country’s two most well-supported sides, Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, have already been handed sanctions by the Premier Soccer League for the diabolical behaviour of their fans.
Komphela, I am sure, will be mortified at what happened in Durban. A proud gentleman and a fine coach, he has been unable to engineer the success he would have wanted.
He will take the majority of the blame for the club’s results as it is his job to win football matches, but you also have to ask the question of whether he was given the right tools to start with.
Komphela led Chiefs in 114 matches in all competitions since taking over from Stuart Baxter at the start of the 2015/16 season. He was victorious in 47 of those, a win percentage of 41, but also lost 25 games outright.
Perhaps the defining statistic of his reign is the fact that his team was involved in 42 draws, and their inability to turn those into wins – in both league and cup – was ultimately what cost them success on the trophy front.
And so to the question of why so many stalemates. Was it negative tactics? Poor team selection? Or the fact that the quality, especially in the final third, was just not there.For that you have to look at the club’s recruitment policy and towards football manager Motaung, who, it is well known, leads the search for new players with little input from coaches.
It has been the frustration of a succession of tacticians at the club that players are imposed on them and they must make do with what they are given. This is not just an issue at Chiefs, but widespread throughout the PSL.
Chiefs have made 25 signings since the start of 2015/16, not including players who were promoted from the club’s development ranks. You can count on one hand the successes: Daniel Cardoso, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Ryan Moon, Philani Zulu ... and the jury is still out on Teenage Hadebe.
But what about the misses? William Twala, Bongani Ndulula, Sula Matovu, Edmore Chirambadare, Michelle Katsvairo, Lewis Macha, Gustavo Páez, Bongi Jayiya and even a miss-firing Leonardo Castro (so far), to name just a few.
Had Komphela really been equipped with the right players to be successful, or does the club’s poor recruitment lie at the heart of their issues?How does a SuperSport United go out and find a Jeremy Brockie, a Mamelodi Sundowns bring in a Gaston Sirino, or even a Maritzburg United find Evans Rusike, yet Chiefs are left, without being too unkind, with the dregs?
And it is clear that they no longer carry the budget nor the pulling power in the local market to beat off the likes of Sundowns, SuperSport, Wits or even neighbours Pirates to the best of the PSL’s talent.
There was a time when most youngsters grew up dreaming of playing for Chiefs and that would be enough to get them to sign on the dotted line, but that notion is long gone.Money talks and Chiefs have become less and less competitive in the marketplace despite their handsome sponsorships.
Before Komphela, Baxter built a formidable side who won two league championships in three years, as well as the Nedbank Cup, but the heart of that team was ripped out after the arrival of Komphela.
Gone since then have been Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Josta Dladla, Mandla Masango, Tefu Mashamaite, Matthew Rusike, Morgan Gould and George Lebese, all key role-players in that success.
To be fair, some were chasing overseas dreams, but others were discarded for their age when they have gone on to show it has been no barrier to success with fine performances elsewhere.
And so Komphela will be cast as the villain in the current malaise the club finds itself in, but the truth is far more complex than that and there is no one factor.
Others have to shoulder the blame as well and, if the club are to reach the heights they once occupied, they need much more than just a new coach.