Chiefs are the team to beat, says Komphela

2014-02-13 00:00

IT will take a massive effort from the PSL’s top clubs to stop Kaizer Chiefs from retaining their title this season, said Maritzburg United boss Steve Komphela after Tuesday night’s thrilling 2-2 draw between the sides at Harry Gwala Stadium.

In what was perhaps the stadium’s finest football match in recent years, United ensured that Chiefs failed to record what would have been their 10th successive league victory.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” said the United coach after the electric contest. “They [Chiefs] have transcended beyond confidence and into belief, and that is very difficult to beat. Even if you are very organised, they will hurt you.”

It was a game that United were never supposed to win, and they didn’t, but they came oh so close. When Ryan de Jongh’s long-range effort beat the country’s top goalkeeper with less than 80 seconds on the clock to put his side ahead, he sprinted over to the bench before almost knocking Komphela over in a moment of the rawest emotion. “I’m sure I’m about 90 kg, and I don’t ever remember being picked up by a player, but he [De Jongh] lifted me like I was a piece of paper,” said Komphela. “Emotions are triggered by a deep understanding. We have been telling him that he has a good shot, and when it went in I think that belief was re-affirmed and it set off that emotion in him. It was unbelievable.”

Reacting to the prospect of this being the greatest match ever seen at Harry Gwala, Komphela attributed the quality of the affair to his side’s early goal.

“I think we actually set the house on fire the minute we scored,” he said. “They [Chiefs] got angry and came back and scored, and then we were back in the lead. We kept them in the anger zone and that is what made it a very good football match. I am very pleased.”

The signs are encouraging for United after Komphela’s four points from a possible six in his first two matches in charge. An away fixture at Mpumalanga Black Aces awaits on Sunday, and that is a game that United will be looking to win given their last two performances.

“We are marching on. We could have gotten three points, but the point we did get was crucial. Every point that we can add on to what we already have is a plus,” said Komphela.

Chiefs manager Stuart Baxter wasn’t in the best of moods after the match, and in what has become familiar fashion he bemoaned some of the refereeing decisions. But even he couldn’t take anything away from United’s performance on the night. “I thought Maritzburg were brave and they played well. They played with a lot of energy and a lot of commitment and I’m not surprised, because Steve’s teams do,” said the Englishman.

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