Time for Komphela to step up

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Perhaps he can be successful in the CAF Champions League, where his predecessor twice failed to reach the group stages of the competition.

Amakhosi travel to the Comoros to face Volcan Club de Moroni, a side probably made up of fishermen and making their debut in the continent’s premier club tournament.

It seems like a walk in the park. Komphela takes a break from the intense pressure of attempting to retain the Absa Premiership that the Glamour Boys won last season in such fine fashion under Baxter, now SuperSport United coach.

It is in the Champions League that he is likely to find some solace, although an average display – anything less than a place in the group stages – will only give his detractors more ammunition.

Chiefs announced earlier in the week that the return leg against Volcan on February 27 will be held at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, with the coach arguing that the match venue was irrelevant when playing a team that was constantly based at zero altitude.

It is unclear at this stage whether a win at the Stade de Moroni on Sunday is a priority, as Komphela has yet to reveal his ambition in the Champions League.

The little he did say following Amakhosi’s 1-0 league victory over Wits on Tuesday was promising.

“We should be ready as preparations have been made,” he said. “These trips are going to be strenuous, but they bring in a lot of mental strength. I am sure we will be able to get something out of these trips, and the first one starts on the weekend.”

Chiefs registered a strong 30-man squad for the tournament, and having been criticised early in the season for lacking depth, a trending topic even when Baxter was in charge, Komphela’s men will be stretched to their limits if intentions are to go all the way in the cup.

Distraction

There was a feeling under Baxter that this competition was merely a distraction, and the decision in 2014 to send assistant coach Doctor Khumalo to Ivory Coast to face ASEC Mimosas with an under-strength team in the Confederation Cup (Chiefs were downgraded to that tournament after failing to reach the group stages) only fuelled suspicion.

Komphela can change all that starting on Sunday.

And then there’s Sundowns, Wits and Ajax.

Amakhosi will not be alone in their safari, with Sundowns – the most desperate of the four South African teams to claim continental glory – Wits and Ajax all in action this weekend.

Sundowns are away to Zimbabwe’s Chicken Inn tomorrow, while the Clever Boys and Urban Warriors take on Light Stars (Seychelles) and Sagrada Esperanca (Angola) in the Confederation Cup respectively.

Both Wits and Ajax have done little to change the perception that South African teams detest taking part in Caf competitions. Wits coach Gavin Hunt’s comment that “we will treat every game in this tournament with the respect it deserves” this week did not inspire confidence.

Ajax had already done the damage days before by withdrawing, before the SA Football Association forced them to retract their statement on Wednesday.

Their registered squads are strong, giving the impression that they will put up a fight to lift the South African flag.

However, it is highly likely that the rotation system, with domestic matches in mind, will be the order of the day. - The Mercury

Original source: Time for Komphela to step up

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