There’s probably only one area where Pitso Mosimane knows he can’t compete with Steve Komphela.
Mosimane, the decorated Mamelodi Sundowns coach and his Golden Arrows counterpart Komphela have battled countless times where Mosimane emerged victorious in most but when it comes to the gift of the gap, Mosimane will always be second to Komphela.
Komphela’s way with words has to do with a linguistically superior gift innately instilled in him at birth.
If Saturday’s Telkom Knockout semifinal at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium was judged on who serenades and charms the most with words and pearls of wisdom, Arrows might as well just walk straight into the final.
Komphela, whose silver tongue can convince a hungry lion to feast on Greek salad, may be superior to Mosimane when it comes to speaking but how well can Komphela contend with the Downs coach on certain aspects of coaching?
FARPost‘s Hosea Ramphekwa takes a closer look at the two personalities.
Both Mosimane and Komphela are winners. They always thrive to come out tops in whatever battle. They both have the ability to instill the winning mentality in their players.
While Mosimane can be celebrated for his winning mentality, Komphela cannot be accorded the same. Mosimane has a bagful of trophies to show for this while Komphela is yet to claim any form of silverware as a coach in the elite league. On a personal level, those who know Komphela attest to how the man from the farms in Kroonstad fought hard and won many individual battles to reach greater levels in his career.
However in football, trophies speak volumes. Mosimane has been a beneficiary of patience from Patrice Motsepe hence his success. The only other time Komphela was accorded a chance to compete with Pitso, resources wise, was at Chiefs where things went pear shape.
Mosimane is a tactical genius and he is arguably the best coach in the PSL. ‘Jingles’ puts in the work. He spends hours studying opponents and improving his players. He put together a well-oiled machine in terms of his backroom staff. He has three people in every position in his technical team. Mosimane always pushes his people – staff and players – to aspire to greater heights. Mosimane has studied almost all the players in the PSL. He knows their weakness and strengths. He knows how to exploit their shortfalls.
Komphela’s tactical acumen, no matter how brilliant, can only be weighed on results. His brilliance will always be overshadowed by results, or lack thereof.
His transformation of Free State Stars, Maritzburg United, Bloemfontein Celtic and recently Arrows, will always be pitted against his tenure at Chiefs, where he failed to lead Amakhosi to Holy Grail. In low pressure environments, where threats of an axe hoovering over his head are minimal, Komphela thrives.
Recently Komphela managed to outsmart Mosimane tactically by leading Arrows to a 3-2 triumph in a league tie. Before that he battled Mosimane’s protégée Kaitano Tembo as Arrows beat and drew against SuperSport United in the Telkom Knockout and the league respectively.
Sometimes tactics depend on the quality of players. Mosimane has players, technically sound, who can implement his tactics with relative ease while Komphela has to work twice as hard to get some things right given the resources at his disposal.
Mosimane’s hard work on tactics puts him miles ahead of the rest. Chances are Mosimane may have reviewed his side’s loss to Arrows a thousand times. And he won’t rest on his laurels when it comes to this area, one of the cornerstones of his success.
For most coaches to achieve success, they have to be effective at managing players. Egos, competition and dressing room squabbles can get out of hand and how a coach deals with that can determine whether he makes it or not.
Mosimane and Komphela are great managers even though they are different. Komphela is a likable character and has players warming to him. Mosimane may not be a cup of Joe for many players but he still gets the best out of them. In Mosimane’s world, whether he clashes with a players or likes a player on a personal level or not, the best player always plays. He will fight with a player the whole week and come weekend the player plays.
“If you have an issue with a player, you play them and say prove me wrong. You give us trouble but you make us win. I can’t bench you because we are fighting. Make us win, it’s your job. Everyone gets a chance. I tick my box and I sleep well,” Mosimane once said.
Komphela employs his gift of the gap to make his players believe they can swim through shark infested seas and emerge to the other side unscathed hence Arrows players play intense with intent from first to last whistle. Like Mosimane, Komphela believes in hard work.
While Komphela has thick skin to absorb pressure, Mosimane has a deft way of dealing with pressure. In the aftermath of poor performances, Komphela will openly admit that he and his men didn’t pitch for the game and were not good enough but Mosimane will find a way of deflecting attention from himself and his players. Either the match officials or poor state of the pitch will be responsible for his team not coming to the party. Both men’s love for the game make them to endure tough conditions and high pressure environments they work in.
However on Saturday afternoon when Arrows welcome Sundowns at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, it will be down to who wants it the most.
Will it be Mosimane’s wounded soldiers or Komphela’s hungry young guns that will triumph on the day and advance to the final of the Telkom Knockout?
By Hosea Ramphekwa