Derby mind games on
Pirates assistant coach fires salvo at Chiefs for lacking former coach’s technical input
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena stepped up the Soweto derby mind games on Monday when he suggested at the weekend that rivals Kaizer Chiefs miss former coach Steve Komphela’s football smarts.
Pirates host Chiefs in southern Africa’s biggest match at a sold-out FNB Stadium on Saturday and Mokwena said the current side under Italian coach Giovanni Solinas do not have enough of the technical chutzpah they oozed under their erstwhile mentor.
‘‘Without sounding biased‚ I think having lost Steve Komphela has been a big loss for Chiefs from a technical perspective‚" Mokwena said.
‘‘The type of leader that he is‚ the tactical acumen that he possesses ... if you compare the previous team to this team and from an organisational perspective‚ you can clearly see the lack of a coach of that calibre."
Komphela left Chiefs in April approaching the end of a third season without a trophy at the Soweto club. He resigned after fans had run on to the pitch and physically attacked security officials following a 2-0 Nedbank Cup semifinal defeat to Free State Stars at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
He joined Bloemfontein Celtic in the off season and has seen a swift reversal of fortunes‚ spearheading the cash-strapped and troubled Free State side’s revival with a fraction of the resources he had at Naturena.
While continuing to run a critical rule over Solina’s side‚ Mokwena conceded that Chiefs look stronger than they did last season after buying several star players‚ including Khama Billiat and Lebogang Manyama.
‘‘You can see from the minutest of details‚ you can see the influence and the loss that has taken place [after Komphela’s departure]‚" he said.
"Be that as it may‚ in losing from a technical leadership perspective‚ I think technically with regard to the personnel they have made huge strides. The players they have brought in have probably gone on to cover for the lack of technical expertise on the bench that was there last season."
The two sides will go into the derby with their tails up after advancing to the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout when they brushed past Black Leopards and Chippa United at the weekend.
Pirates are second in the Absa Premier League on 16 points. Chiefs are two points behind in third place.