Will Komphela be United’s answer?

2014-01-04 00:00

FORMER Free State Stars coach Steve Komphela is expected to be unveiled as the new Maritzburg United coach after the sacking of ex-Bloemfontein Celtic boss Clinton Larsen.

Komphela, who previously coached United between 2006 and 2007, is a former national U23 boss, who served as interim Bafana Bafana coach before the appointment of Gordon Igesund. He was reportedly the club’s first choice following the resignation of German Ernst Middendorp.

A run of one win in nine games was the deal breaker for the Team of Choice board who decided to part ways with Larsen, just 78 days after hiring him to replace Middendorp.

The decision to sack the former Telkom Knock-out-winning coach was taken by the board after the club lost 3-1 to Wits at home, said manager Quintin Jettoo.

“The chairman [Farook Kadodia] told his agent on December 18 that his services wouldn’t be required after the Sundowns game. I’m not sure when Clinton was told the news by his agent,” Jettoo told Weekend Witness yesterday.

According to Jettoo, the squad had been told ahead of the Sundowns game by chairman Kadodia to “expect changes”, although they were not told what they would be.

“The players will be back during the weekend, and we hope to introduce them to the new coach by Tuesday when they resume training,” said Jettoo.

Asked if that new coach would be Komphela, Jettoo said, “It’s likely to be Komphela”.

On the decision to terminate Larsen’s contract, Jettoo said the run of results was the main factor.

“The reality is that in nine games under Larsen, the team has won just one game, drawn two and lost six. We’ve picked up just five points in nine games. The board looked at it and said that if we go another nine games where we pick up just five points, we will be relegated, so they decided to act now,” he said.

After finishing 11th for the last two seasons in a row, former coach Middendorp was given a target of finishing the season in the top eight. The objective was inserted in Larsen’s contract following the resignation of the German.

“It was clear that Larsen would not achieve his targeted objective in his contract of reaching the top eight at the end of the season,” Kadodia said in a statement posted on the club’s website.

Larsen’s short reign began with a loss at home against SuperSport United. Results improved when they picked up four points on the road with a 2-0 win against AmaZulu in Durban and a 0-0 draw against Middendorp’s Bloemfontein Celtic.

But, a run of five straight defeats after that sealed his fate and even a credible draw against title chasing Mamelodi Sundowns couldn’t save him. That run has left United staring down the barrel of the gun as they sit third from bottom, three points above fellow KZN strugglers Golden Arrows at the foot of the table.

Larsen, an accomplished midfielder who turned out for Manning Rangers, Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana in his playing days, was in high spirits when he was unveiled as the club’s new coach in October, promising attacking and winning football.

Under Larsen, the club did play more attacking football than they had under Middendorp, something the German had bumped heads with Kadodia over. Unfortunately for the Durban-born Larsen, who began his coaching career at United as Gordon Igesund’s number two, results were not forthcoming.

The injury situation — nine players were on the treatment table when he was unveiled — never helped Larsen, but he always maintained that he wouldn’t use that as an excuse for the results.

With injured players expected to recover during the Christmas break, Komphela, who is expected to replace Larsen, should inherit a healthy squad as he tries to guide United to safety.

Larsen and Kadodia were not available for comment.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

@KingBiyela on Twitter

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