You see, these Coronavirus times have taught us to expect the unexpected, for, no one had ever thought that a security guard would be the one checking the temperature of a nurse when the latter reports for duty, but even then, I must say that one was caught flat-footed by the news that Steve Komphela had resigned from Golden Arrows to take up a coaching role at Mamelodi Sundowns, who had, days earlier, appointed Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena as “joint head coaches”. As if that was not enough, it was then confirmed that the affable Komphela would be taking up the role of “senior coach” at the Tshwane giants, reporting to Mngqithi and Mokwena. Now, let that sink in… Komphela is going to be reporting to Mokwena, his protégé!
“This football will kill you the real death,” as one coach famously confessed.
Of course, until now, it’s an unheard-of arrangement in South African football (and I bet anywhere else too), and naturally, people have expressed misgivings about whether it will bear fruit, or what the reasoning behind it is. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Some of our readers have written in to comment about the interesting developments at Chloorkop, and going through their letters, you get a sense that there are mixed feelings. Regular contributor to Make Your Point, Lepona Chacha of Botshabelo, asks a crucial question: how is everything going to work if the three will be sitting together on the bench? Each of them, he reasons, is a qualified coach and they probably don’t share the same football philosophy, so heads might clash now and again. Football is an emotional game after all. He further suggests that perhaps one of the three gentleman may have to take a step back and only give his view when it is sought. I think that would be interesting. No football coach wants to “step back” or to be relegated to a mere observer who is in a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” kind of a situation.
TWO heads are better than ONE, I’m not sure about THREE.
Mamelodi Sundowns are the most dominant team in South Africa and certainly one of the top teams in Africa, and they wouldn’t just deliberately dig their own grave by making decisions that would go against further enhancing their name in Mzansi and African football, so trust me, the club’s board would have thought carefully before entrusting the three men with the task of leading the team post the Pitso Mosimane era. In any case, striving for less than perfection from this upcoming season would be spitting on the legacy left by “Jingles”, who won a whopping five league titles with the Yellow Nation, as well as the Holy Grail, the CAF Champions League, among other successes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and we will only ever know how Mngqithi, Mokwena and Komphela will fare once we’ve seen them in action as a trio. Results will speak for themselves. It can be a marriage made in hell or the most beautiful concept ever, who knows. Let’s hope it’s the latter. Another thought that hits me regarding this is that perhaps in South Africa, we need to be open to these new arrangements and give them a chance to fulfil their purpose. I have a feeling that just because it’s a new thing that no one has ever seen happen before, subconsciously people dismiss it and try to plant all sorts of conspiracy theories.
Orlando Pirates appointed a Specialist Coach for Finishing, in Stephane Adam, in August 2018, and instead of people appreciating the fact that the club was taking steps to address a common malaise in our football, that of a lack of double-digit goal scorers, we mocked the poor guy and his role, especially on the occasions when the Soweto giants finished a match without scoring. He must have left a very depressed man.
Mokwena was “loaned” to Chippa United by Pirates at the midway point of last season, which was a first in local football. Again, instead of seeing the move for what it was – i.e. a club giving their idle, somewhat disillusioned, young, up-and-coming coach an opportunity to go away for a bit, implement the lessons learnt from his ill-fated spell as head coach and rediscover his mojo – the move was met with derision by many. And what happened? Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am! Moral of the story? Positivity is key.
And the positive side to this new Downs project is, here is a hard-to-please and tough-talking billionaire owner, a man who makes no bones about his ambition for the club to become a dominant force in Africa, entrusting three local coaches with the enormous task of attempting to live out that ambition. And they’ve got Pitso’s success at Downs to thank for it, because before he came on board, Patrice Motsepe would usually travel the length and breadth of the world when searching for a coach. Although some of these coaches came highly recommended, having been legendary former players, in all honesty, they never understood the culture of the club or of South African football itself. In Mngqithi, you have a brilliant mind, as his middle name suggests, and a coolheaded coach whose intelligence stands out about him. In Mokwena, you have a young genius who is up to speed with the modern football trends and sleeps, eats and drinks the game. In Komphela, you have an empath, a psychologist, a social worker, a teacher and a coach all in one. You add all of them together and you have an overload of expertise.
I understand the concerns of some Sundowns faithful, who have been used to winning trophies for years on end with one man in charge and a marvelous support structure behind him, and they may now be apprehensive about how this new arrangement will pan out, as too many cooks spoil the broth. But remember this, too: the more, the merrier. Think about it.
Catch y’all on the rebound,