Komphela’s season review
Komphela’s season review

Posted in Features, News on Jun 20, 2017.

Steve Komphela feels that “promises are easy to make. However, most important is to possess the drive, energy, desire and dedication to wake up every day and keep working extremely hard and try to deliver on expectations.”

KC Website: Coach, how would you reflect on the 2016/2017 season?

Steve Komphela: By Kaizer Chiefs standards, we didn’t do well and failed to meet our objectives. However, when it comes to the game model - there was an improvement in the way we played. Not winning a single trophy was definitely not good.

We did slightly better in the second half of the season – do you feel we are on the right track?

We are on the right track, playing attractive attacking football with speed, skill, movement and lots of box entries, creating lots of chances. We simply need to win matches because controlling and dominating without winning affects the players’ confidence. It also makes our job as coaches very difficult.

That’s good news. At some stage, we had an excellent run of form…

Yes we did. We had an unbeaten run of 14 games, but just when we came towards the end of the season, after the Nedbank quarter-final against SuperSport United, to be precise, there was a hiccup. We had a disappointing run at a bad time, especially as we lost matches that were winnable.

Any idea what was the reason for that kind of mini-collapse?

It's a combination of factors, like injuries and suspensions which affects your consistency in selection. As a result, the team’s performance gets affected as well. Another consideration is fatigue, either mental or physical. The most obvious was our inability to quickly bounce back after a setback. We needed to recover faster after the penalties knockout against SuperSport United.

We didn’t lose any game at home, although we had seven draws. However, we struggled on the road, losing six matches, despite our supporters turning up in huge numbers at away games. What is the reason for that?

Those figures are bizarre and awkward. It doesn’t make sense that we lost so many points in stadiums where we have the most supporters, with due respect to our home supporters at FNB Stadium.  Yes, we didn’t lose a single league game at home, but we drew seven which was not good. However, we were also very unlucky at some stages during the season. Look at the matches we gave away. After a good start in the Carling Black Label Champion Cup we lost our first game of the season away against Bidvest Wits through a set-play and one moment of bad defending. We later lost to Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria, despite leading 1-0. After our opening goal, we switched off and froze allowing Sundowns to immediately equalise. We should have managed that stage better and, to make matters worse, Khumalo left the field injured just when we conceded. Big matches are won or lost on small margins and small details. Later in the match they scored the winner thanks to an own goal. If you reflect on that game, you think, “How could we have lost that match?”. There are numerous examples like that: the one-all home draw against SuperSport United, Cape Town City home draw, Orlando Pirates home draw (missing a penalty), Baroka City two-all away draw, Golden Arrows one-all home draw and the 3-2 defeat to Cape Town City. The total number of points we unnecessarily lost in matches is 18. Add that to the number of points we finished with and we could have won the league.

Looking at Chiefs, what do you feel is the problem defensively?

“Explanations can come across as excuses”. I hope this time around, it doesn't. We were not consistent in our central pairing due to many reasons, injuries (Mathoho) and suspensions (Gordinho, Mathoho). I am not happy at all with our defence. It’s a general South African problem as well. If you look at all PSL teams’ defensive record at the end of the season, you realise that we allowed too many goals. We were third best at 28. We conceded almost a goal per game, that’s too much. We cannot look at defence without considering attack, because they are closely related. How you defend informs how you attack and vice versa. The issue of conceding goals must be looked at in conjunction with how the team attacks. It opens another football chapter in our game model.

Do you feel that opponents have caught us too often on the counter-attack, because the counter-pressing didn’t always work out?

No. We only conceded five goals from counter-attacks. So that’s a huge plus. Most of the goals we conceded came from our individual defensive errors. We only conceded four goals from set plays the whole season, which was impressive compared to last season when we conceded 14. We desperately need to correct our individual tactics in defence. However, of the 39 times we scored, 19 were beautiful as a result of controlling and dominating the game.

When it comes to scoring goals - is there room for strikers to work better as a unit?

Yes there is. Our goals were spread evenly across the final third. There were goals coming from interplay and passes from the centre or wide areas. We did create a lot of chances, so that’s not the problem – we even got numerous penalties, which we sometimes missed and, as a result, losing out on points. We needed a consistent goalscorer. A case in point is, for example, Siyabonga Nomvete who helped Moroka Swallows to the second spot with his 20 league goals in the 2011/2012 season. The same happened with Collins Mbesuma, scoring 25 league goals to help Chiefs win the league title in the 2004/2005 season. That’s what we are looking for – a consistent goalscorer.

Can Gustavo Páez become that striker?

I think he can. He has shown that. He came in and scored five goals, even though he only joined us in February and didn’t start too many games. There’s also the young Ryan Moon whose transition, if managed well, will be a great asset to the club. We hope they find their feet, stay injury free, and with some luck, score goals. Strikers need luck apart from their natural scoring talent. The Italian striker Filippo Inzaghi was a prime example of that. It looked as if the ball always connected with him when in the box, as he seemed forever to be at the right place at the right time. Robert Ng’ambi had that at some stage while at Platinum Stars, that ‘luck’ of a good finisher.

Would Daniel Cardoso be your most improved player compared to last season?

Not too sure about that one. I had an opportunity to work closely with Cardoso before and I know what he’s capable of. I am yearning for the Cardoso I worked with before. Yes, he did better than his first season, but I know that he can do much better still.

Does that go back again to what the Chairman said at the end of the season Players’ Awards, “there were too many ‘eish’ moments”...  

Indeed, it was more of an ‘eish’ season. We missed scoring chances which were easier to score than to miss, we missed crucial penalties and we conceded goals at critical phases with the last kick of the ball. It was very strange and devastating but, as sports people, we needed to stay focussed, not get involved in blame games and do our jobs irrespective. There were too many unnecessary errors we could have avoided, but it's gone and we cannot change it - we need to look forward and rectify our mistakes so we deliver.

Siphiwe ‘Shabba’ Tshabalala had a fine season. Please tell us something about his season?

Shabba is an important member of our team. You have to appreciate the age of a player. Football is not only about tactics or physique, it’s also about periodisation. He played most of his career as a winger but we moved him to the number 10 position and he found a new gear. He had a good season, even though he picked form a bit late and unfortunately got injured towards the end, which again affected us badly. He created a number of opportunities, some we took, while we squandered others. The highlights of his performances were the two special goals he scored against Cape Town City and SuperSport United. They were world class. We are optimistic that there’s more to come.

What can our supporters expect from the team next season?

As usual, the answer is that we need to win matches, win trophies. We drew too many games to be in contention for the league title and we must get beyond the 60 points mark. We want to continue dominating and controlling games, play attractive attacking football and just take the chances we create. That’s why we are looking for a striker who can score consistently.

There seem to be two camps of supporters – those who support you (Steve Must Stay) and those who want you to go (Steve Must Fall)… How do you handle this pressure and what would you say to each camp?

A coach needs to be very strong mentally and must be very focused, especially at such a big club with such a rich culture and tradition. Expectations are always very high, which is normal. You have to weather the storm. I am humbled by the support so many fans have given me and I can’t disappoint them next season. On the other hand, I acknowledge the outcry of the supporters who want me to go. I understand that it is more out of love for Kaizer Chiefs – they want the club to win and that’s what we all want.

Can you promise the supporters any silverware next season?

Promises are easy to make. However, most important is to possess the drive, energy, desire and dedication to wake up every day and keep working extremely hard and try to deliver on expectations.


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