According to a few well-respected publications in the country, Steve Komphela is a hot favourite to take over as head coach of Kaizer Chiefs, who recently had a sweep out of note. Among other important personnel, Amakhosi announced last week that coach Stuart Baxter, who delivered them from an eight-year league trophy drought, has been released from his contract, which still had a another season to run. For a lot of people, this was the most shocking news of the year. For me, the writing was on the wall halfway through the season when Kingston Nkatha left. I then called it.
I knew he wasn’t happy and was heading for the exit door. Anyway that’s another story. My focus now is on who will dare step into the shoes of the man who was the Moses of this club, and seldom put a foot wrong in his three-year tenure at Naturena. Now I like Steve Komphela. He’s a good coach who commands a lot of respect. Plus he’s from my hometown Kroonstad so I have a soft spot for the bloke.
I do however think he would be set up for failure should he join Chiefs. The reason is simple, David Moyes. Few people actually remember that before Moyes took up the post at Machester United, he was considered a very good manager at Everton. That’s why he spent so many years at Goodison Park. He then joined a team full of players who have a winners’ medal for everything. He was expected to just follow the blue print and do things the Alex Ferguson way, and when he didn’t, he lost the dressing room.
The senior players turned against him because they felt they had more of the know-how than he did. Once you lose the senior players, that’s it for you. It will be very difficult to even get the media on your side.
Should Komphela make the Chiefs move, he could be faced with a similar problem. Yes, several high profile players have left the recently crowned champions’ village in the South of Johannesburg, but they are still a huge club that has achieved a lot in recent times. Coming in as a coach after they broke more than 10 records this past season could be detrimental to his career.
I know I’m gonna get a lot of stick for suggesting that perhaps Steve can’t handle Chiefs. I have no doubt about his abilities. And I’m certrainly not saying he shouldn’t become coach there, I’m merely saying it shouldn’t happen now. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying Bobby Motaung should look overseas for a coach. In fact I don’t think he should even be looking at any CVs because he already has his man.
Doctor Khumalo has been Baxter’s right hand man in all of this. He has been part of their success from the beginning. If anyone deserves the job in my opinion, it’s Doctor. This guy has been such a loyal servant for the club since his teenagehood – since the days of his father, the late Pro Khumalo, the one wearing the famous gold and black. This is the only South African club that he knows, boasting a record 397 appearances for the Phefeni Glamour Boys.
If you ask me, no one knows the culture of this club more than 16V. It therefore wouldn’t hurt to give him a chance to have a crack at it as a sign of good faith from the club. Unlike Komphela, the Chiefs players already know and respect Doctor. Besides the fact that he worked closely with Baxter and will most likely go for continuity more than coming up with something new, they also know of his exploits as a player.
Top players like Siphiwe Tshabalala have admitted that Doctor was their childhood hero and made them play football. So this would be a plus for both Chiefs and Khumalo. In 2003, Doctor Khumalo was given the temporary reins at Chiefs alongside Ace Khuse after Muhsin Ertugral was fired.
They did a pretty good job and steered the club over troubled waters. This past season Baxter was sent off towards the end, and Doctor won both games he was in charge of. He has shown that he has the potential to become a very good coach. What better club to give him that chance than the one he lives and breathes? Besides, he is synomymous with Chiefs. It is impossible to see him at any other club. It’s the same as Ryan Giggs.
He is being groomed to one day take over at Manchester United because they know that no one knows it better. I say the Motaungs should take a page out of Irvin Khoza’s book and take a chance like he did with Eric Tinkler.
Now the man is doing very well and that risk is beginning to pay dividents for Khoza. He took Pirates from the depths of despair and finished in a respectable position. He is also doing very well on the continental front. These are all the results of players working with someone they know, and giving them freedom of expression. He is also a member of the famous ’96 squad which gives his CV some weight in South Africa.
Now Doctor is even more revered that Tinkler, so he would not even have to work hard to earn the players and fans’ respect. It is also very difficult to see ‘Mtungwa’ agreeing to work under Komphela, who was his teammate in the early days of Bafana Bafana. He would probably see it as a lack of respect from the club, and this might sow divisions within the squad. The last thing we want to hear about is the “Komphela Camp” and the “Khumalo Camp”.
I think Doctor Khumalo is more than ready to come of age and take the top job in South African club football. He has SAFA levels 1, 2, and 3 licenses, an English FA license, plus a Uefa B license as formal education for his coaching. A few detractors might say you can’t start at the top, but I think Doctor Khumalo is big enough and his contribution to SA football, particularly at Chiefs warrants him to lead this club, and he definitely gets my vote.