Komphela strategises for today’s Soweto derby
Steve Komphela might not go for the same starting lineup and much-talked-about gameplan that earned Kaizer Chiefs a stirring win against Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday when they meet Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby today.
But he does want to replicate the performance‚ the Chiefs’ coach said ahead of today’s big Absa Premiership clash at FNB Stadium (kickoff 3.30pm).
At first‚ probed on whether he would replicate the three-centreback defence and quick‚ passing game out of midfield probing for striker Bernard Parker to beat offside with intelligent running‚ Komphela appeared to reveal his hand.
“I think with the number of players that we have right now‚ I think it’s about 20 [due to injuries]‚ it makes your life easier in terms of who you are going to keep‚” the coach said.
“But I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and Saturday‚ 3.30pm. If nothing happens then we’ll go with the plan that we’ve been working on since we played Sundowns on Tuesday.” Komphela‚ though‚ did later say he might tweak some things.
The coach’s game plan that saw a Chiefs side hit by injuries in defence stifle Sundowns’ vaunted attack‚ then create the greater number of chances at Loftus Versfeld with a direct approach from the midfield to the strikers, resulted in a 2-1 win to Amakhosi.
Komphela‚ with both right-backs Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Kgotso Moleko injured‚ played three centrebacks including 19-year-old debutant goal-scorer Siyabonga Ngezana. Little winger Joseph Molangoane was at wingback.
This ensured neither Ngezana nor Molangoane were too exposed defensively‚ and the latter had freedom to still attack.
Sundowns were snuffed out‚ even though they had almost all the ball.
When Chiefs did win the ball it was recycled at speed through their midfielders‚ among them some fine passers like Siphiwe Tshabalala‚ George Maluleka and the steadily improving Hendrick Ekstein.
Sundowns‚ expecting Amakhosi’s normal pressing game‚ were the victims of Parker’s resulting field day getting behind their back four.
There was a surprise element to the game plan that saw Chiefs beat Downs. Exactly replicated‚ that aspect would be lacking against Pirates.
It was put to Komphela that a combination of this counterattack and Chiefs’ normal pressing game might make Amakhosi deadly.
“I think so‚” he responded. “Sometimes we coaches tend to be rigid, but you need some element of flexibility.
“Circumstances lead you to certain decisions. Would you have taken the same decision if you had a ‘Rama’‚ Moleko‚ Tsepo [Masilela]‚ and everybody? I don’t know.
“But now‚ based on circumstances‚ we don’t have a right-back. And there were stories coming from Pretoria that‚ ‘No‚ no‚ these ones are for the taking because they don’t have a right-back‚ they don’t have a defence’.
“And I said that when Russians go to war‚ sometimes they need some sort of a twist or trouble so that they can focus more. Maybe that’s what we needed.
“Coming to tactics‚ the modern game‚ whether we like it or not‚ has an influence of the half-spaces.
“If you look at [Sundowns forward] Sibusiso Vilakazi‚ he drops into the midfield. So does Themba Zwane. If you have two midfielders already locked onto Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda‚ there is going to be a four versus two.
“So you need to deal with that‚ whether you do it using three centrebacks or three in central midfield‚ or two bands of three and three and three.
“So then if you have a band of three centrebacks and three midfielders‚ that’s six‚ and then you have two strikers‚ and then you have to spread your team and it tells you that you have two wingbacks.
“So it’s just logic and it’s mathematics. Football is about mathematics.
“Now again‚ you guys [the media] want to know whether we are going to be playing the same team. We want to give the same performance. I think that would be the appropriate answer.”