Khuzwayo backs ‘father’ Khompela
‘We also need to come together to protect him and show he isn’t alone in this.’
KAIZER Chiefs’ coach, Steve Komphela has stood alone in the firing line facing chants calling for his head, as well as the missiles thrown at him.
He prefers it like that, shielding the players from the pressure so that they play without inhibitions. Komphela argues that he has a skin thick enough to handle anything thrown at him. That’s why he vowed he wouldn’t quit Amakhosi as the pressure mounts to a point that he needed a police escort to leave Moses Mabhida Stadium after their last match, against Baroka FC last Saturday.
Chiefs’ players formed a protective guard between their coach and the police after that match. Brilliant Khuzwayo wants his teammates to go a step further in defending the coach who has constantly defended the players by turning things around with positive results.
“In a family there is a father, mother and the children,” Khuzwayo said. “The father is the head. Every mistake that happens at home, the father should stand up at all times and protect the children. For him (Komphela), it is about protecting us so that we can enjoy this God-given talent that we have. But we also need to come together to protect him and show he isn’t alone in this. He can be our face and try to protect us, but it is up to us as players to turn things around. We should come together as players, talk about our challenges, regroup and try to fight for this brand. This brand is too big (to be struggling like this).”
The 27-year-old goalkeeper has watched helplessly as Amakhosi struggle, going two seasons without a trophy. Itumeleng Khune is the club’s undisputed No. 1, a role he performs with aplomb for both club and country which means those who deputise for him have to watch from the side-lines. Khuzwayo has played just eight league matches since Komphela took over.
“How I look at it is that there is something that I am doing to contribute to the team, even if I am not playing,” Khuzwayo said. “There is always something that I offer to the team. At training here (at the Chiefs’ village in Naturena), I am pushing the one who is playing to do better. It’s not all about me. The team comes first. I take into consideration that this (the Chiefs’ badge) is more important than me. If I fight for this (the badge) more than I fight for myself, it will bring me joy even if I don’t get game time and regardless of how the team is doing.”
Chiefs will look to bounce back from their defeat to Baroka with a victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at Free State Stadium in a friendly in the Macufe Cup tomorrow. Khuzwayo will get a rare start with Khune captaining Bafana Bafana in a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso this afternoon at FNB Stadium.
Despite having spent the last five years in Khune’s shadow, holding his own when given a chance in his absence, Khuzwayo has grown since leaving Durban to join Amakhosi in Johannesburg. He has featured in the senior national team setup and even played in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
“I’ve grown as a brand, the Brilliant Khuzwayo brand, since joining Chiefs,” he said. “I’ve grown as a person. When you play for such a big team, your profile grows. You get a lot of praises and you also experience a lot of negativity (because you are in the spotlight). So facing that has helped me grow as a person. It’s been one hell of a ride for me, with good and bad experiences.”