Af­ter two bar­ren sea­sons, can Amakhosi win sil­ver­ware un­der Steve Kom­phela?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MAZOLA MOLEFE

ITUME­LENG Khune agrees with the pub­lic per­cep­tion: Kaizer Chiefs play­ers need to put their words into ac­tion and help coach Steve Kom­phela, who is in the fi­nal year of his con­tract, de­liver a tro­phy fol­low­ing two bar­ren sea­sons.

Of course Kom­phela’s de­trac­tors be­lieve the former na­tional cap­tain – he took the arm­band from Neil Tovey ahead of the na­tion’s sev­enth game back, af­ter read­mis­sion – should have been sacked, but that not be­ing the case, Khune be­lieves it’s the play­ers who have to step up in the up­com­ing cam­paign.

There were more words from the Amakhosi skip­per ahead of the club’s 2017/18 sea­son opener against Su­perS­port United in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the MTN8 to be played at Dur­ban’s Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium on Satur­day. But this time the goal­keeper sug­gested he, along with his team­mates, were un­der enor­mous pres­sure to prove they were ca­pa­ble of end­ing the un­usual drought.

“At the end of last sea­son we went away won­der­ing whether we de­served to play for this club,” Khune said. “But we re­turned with a fresh ap­proach and much more en­er­gised. We are play­ing against a ruth­less team and, to be hon­est, we have to show more hunger.”

The cap­tain spoke glow­ingly of Kom­phela’s meth­ods and at­trib­uted the club’s lack of suc­cess so far to a poor ex­e­cu­tion on the play­ers’ part.

“It is not just the coach, who is un­der pres­sure. He is a good plan­ner as well as tac­ti­cian and the play­ers have to ex­e­cute the plan. We have let him down a cou­ple of times. The past two sea­sons have been a bit­ter pill to swal­low. It is a shame to us as play­ers to go two years with­out a tro­phy. We have to take our­selves out of this, we have put our­selves un­der im­mense pres­sure,” Khune ex­plained.

An ex­am­ple of an­other fail­ure from the play­ers’ point of view was the alarm­ing rate at which Chiefs con­ceded late goals, which of­ten led to them los­ing games or drop­ping points in the Premier League ti­tle race last sea­son – they fin­ished fourth as a re­sult.

To try to rem­edy that and im­prove a back four which clearly needed new en­ergy, the club has signed Zim­bab­wean cen­tre­back Teenage Hadebe from Chicken Inn and Phi­lani Zulu, who didn’t nec­es­sar­ily scale to such heights that would have earned him a move to Chiefs from Mar­itzburg United be­fore, al­though he has the ad­van­tage of hav­ing worked with Kom­phela in the past.

“We were all a lit­tle com­fort­able,” Khune ex­plained. “The club has gone the ex­tra mile to im­prove. Teenage is a good de­fender who lis­tens, but unfortunately he is in­jured at the mo­ment. Re­mem­ber we were play­ing (Lorenzo) Gordinho on the left side of cen­tral de­fence and he is a right-footed player and I think most of the time he strug­gled. Teenage brings the strength and com­pe­ti­tion. Zulu is nat­u­rally a left-winger, but can play at left­back, and that means he gives Tsepo Masilela and Sibu­siso Khu­malo com­pe­ti­tion. That is what we want, and hope­fully the team can im­prove.”

Chiefs were knocked out early in the MTN8 last sea­son by Cape Town City away from home, and they face a side prob­a­bly much stronger at the same stage of the tour­na­ment a year later. Su­perS­port are co­in­ci­den­tally now coached by Eric Tin­kler, the man at the helm at the Mother City club last sea­son, fol­low­ing Stu­art Bax­ter’s de­par­ture to the na­tional team.

“We are well aware of the fact they (Su­perS­port) haven’t had a break be­cause of their com­mit­ment in African games. They are also on a high af­ter win­ning the Ned­bank Cup in June. They are a very dif­fi­cult team to beat and we have to be clin­i­cal in front of goal and take our chances,” said Khune.

ELSE­WHERE, Rhu­lani Mok­wena fol­lowed in the foot­steps of his un­cle – Jomo Sono, father – Julius “KK” Sono and his grand­fa­ther – Eric “Scara” Sono to join Or­lando Pi­rates.

The former Mamelodi Sun­downs’ as­sis­tant coach will serve as Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic’s sec­ondin-com­mand. Mok­wena joins the Buc­ca­neers with an im­pres­sive CV that in­cludes a Caf Cham­pi­ons League win­ners’ medal. His rich suc­cess is the to­tal op­po­site of Pi­rates, who come from a dis­as­trous sea­son.

“I would like to thank the (Sun­downs’) pres­i­dent, Pa­trice Mot­sepe, and the coach Pitso Mosi­mane for not only pro­vid­ing me with an op­por­tu­nity but also the grace with which they ac­cepted and sup­ported my ac­cep­tance of the Or­lando Pi­rates chal­lenge,” Mok­wena said. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Njab­ulo Ngidi


ITUME­LENG KHUNE: ‘We are play­ing against a ruth­less team and, to be hon­est, we have to show more hunger’.

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