For a second successive match, using three central defenders and two wing-backs, Amakhosi again came unstuck when they lost 2-1 to reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.
Free State Stars had managed to deny them a semi-final place in the Telkom Knockout a little over two weeks ago by beating Chiefs on penalties following a 2-2 draw in open play, and the defeat to Sundowns on Saturday afternoon in a league match - stretching their winless run to four matches in all competitions - has invited a serious backlash.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who scored for Amakhosi against Sundowns, and Sibusiso Khumalo play as the two wing-backs, while Daniel Cardoso, pictured. Mulomowandau Mathoho and Lorenzo Gordinho are deployed as the three central defenders.
The public perception, and most recently the observation made by Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, is that Chiefs are using five defenders, but Komphela has argued that this is ‘misleading’, and was backed by his players yesterday ahead of Wednesday night’s clash against SuperSport United.
“The system is quite catchy,” said Cardoso. “We’ve only just started it now and unfortunately we conceded four goals, but it’s also a lapse of concentration with those silly goals. It’s something we can fix. I think it is a great formation, look at (English Premier League side) Chelsea.
“They are playing it and they are playing brilliant football. I think it is something we have to work on and we will come out tops with more practice time. It’s not defensive. We are playing attacking football, maybe people think it’s defensive when the wing-backs track back to help defensively.”
When asked for his opinion on the 3-4-3 style, midfielder George Maluleka did not hesitate in his response, and was clearly in favour of the new pattern.
“It’s not at all defensive,” he said. “If you look at the type of players we have, it accommodates a lot of us. There is nothing wrong with the formation. You saw against Free State Stars and even against Sundowns, our full-backs were in the attacking half, in the final third.
“Yes, we might be playing three centre-backs, but going forward we have used the full-backs to add numbers as attackers. I think because of the results people will think it’s not working. But what if we had won those games? It would have been a different story.
“We have no complaints.”
Komphela is likely to persist with the same tactics when Chiefs host SuperSport at FNB Stadium, given his belief that it is only a matter of time before he reaps the rewards of a new approach, one which was bizarrely changed despite an eight-game unbeaten run.
The coach is slowly reliving the immense pressure he was under when he ended the previous campaign - his first season as Chiefs coach - without silverware as the Glamour Boys surrendered the league title to Sundowns.
Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@superjourno
Original source: Chiefs players defend new formation