Steve to the rescue

2014-01-07 00:00

MARITZBURG United and Steve Komphela seemed to be a match made heaven. After days of speculation, Komphela was yesterday announced as the club’s new coach following the departure of Clinton Larsen.

Larsen was sacked last week after leading the Team of Choice through a barren spell where they picked up just five points in the nine games that he was in charge.

With United in the bottom three at the halfway stage of the season, and relegation being a reality, chairperson Farook Kadodia felt Komphela was the right man to lead the club to survival. Komphela has of course found himself taking charge of clubs in similar situations before.

“When I joined Manning Rangers in 2004, they were in a similar situation. We managed to survive and make the final of the Absa Cup that season. I joined Free State Stars in a similar position, and we managed to finish fourth in the league,” Komphela told journalists gathered at his unveiling yesterday afternoon.

He acknowledged that the task of pulling the club out of the doldrums would not be an easy one, but was excited by the challenge.

“We are excited, and we know that it is not going to be easy,” he said, referring to the job as “working in Stress Avenue”.

The former Bafana Bafana skipper said he was looking forward to working with the club’s young players, and was also happy that there a number of experienced individuals in the side.

“I’ve also worked with some of them before,” he said, mentioning former Bafana Bafana winger Dillon Sheppard who played under him at Platinum Stars, and Nhlanhla Vilakazi, who was with the national U23 team.

“In six months, we hope we can get the team to where the board and the supporters want to see it,” he said.

Asked by The Witness if he has had a chance to assess the side to see which areas needed to be strengthened, Komphela said it was the duty of every coach in the top flight to know all 450 registered players in the league.

“Is there a need to beef up the squad? It would be unfair to say what areas need to be strengthened. The chairman has said that if there is a need to strengthen, then there will be support from the board,” Komphela said.

For club chairperson Kadodia, he finally got the man he had been pursuing for a number of years, including following the resignation of German Ernst Middendorp.

“We managed to put pen to paper back in 2005, but due to his commitments with the national U23 side, he couldn’t continue with us,” said Kadodia.

“We’ve tried to bring him on board on other occasions, but due to his commitments, it couldn’t happen.

“The hunt for Steve became a reality over the last few weeks and we’re happy to have him. He brings with him a huge amount of experience, and we are confident that football in Maritzburg will take a new direction,” said Kadodia.

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