United are eager to keep Komphela at Harry Gwala

2014-05-13 00:00

MARITZBURG United were due to hold talks, either yesterday afternoon or this morning, with coach Steve Komphela in an attempt to get him to stay at Harry Gwala Stadium next season amidst reports that he is the target of a lucrative offer from newly promoted Chippa United.

Komphela still has two years left on his contract at United, but a buy-out clause would allow him to leave should he choose to accept the offer from Chippa.

At this stage there is no confirmation of talks between Komphela and this season’s NFD champions, but by yesterday morning South Africa’s two premier football websites — SoccerLaduma and Kickoff — were both under the impression that Chippa were lining up a move for Komphela.

The move would be devastating for the Team of Choice, who have witnessed a rejuvenation under Komphela resulting in an optimism at the club that has been absent for years.

But, as United chairperson Farouk Kadodia confirmed yesterday, United do not have the financial clout to compete with the richer clubs in the country — Chippa being one of those clubs thanks to chairperson Siviwe Mpengesi’s Chippa Investment Holdings empire.

“It appears that Steve [Komphela] has had a better offer from Chippa,” confirmed Kadodia to The Witness yesterday. “We will meet with him this [yesterday] afternoon or tomorrow [this] morning to try and find a way to keep him at the club.”

Kadodia is no stranger to coaches coming and going and he has never been afraid to give the sack to his underperforming managers, but in Komphela he knows that he has something special.

“It would be a huge setback,” he confirmed. “We have always had budget challenges, but we have been able to achieve a lot under Steve with a decent team, and he has been a fantastic coach for us.”

Kadodia confirmed that he had not given up the fight, and that he would explore “every area” to keep Komphela at United.

“He [Komphela] has not spoken to anybody; he has not signed anything with anyone,” said Kadodia. “The offer has been made through his agent.”

Chippa’s head of communications and marketing Luthando Zibeko kept his cards close to the chest when questioned by The Witness yesterday.

“We cannot confirm or deny that Steve Komphela will be our coach next season,” he said. “We can confirm that we have cut ties with [previous coach] Vladislav Heric, and that we are looking for a new coach.”

The Witness could not reach Komphela for comment yesterday.

United were threatened with relegation when Komphela took over the reins in Jan­uary, but a strong second half of the campaign saw them climb the table to finish the season in a respectable 10th place.

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