Komphela weighs in on gap between Pirates and Sundowns
"The game that happened at Moses Mabhida, I think it was like the second half at Orlando Stadium," Komphela noted.
Steve Komphela (right) shares a joke with Kaitano Tembo during the Carling Knockout Cup launch at The Park, House of Events on Tuesday. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro might have deflected questions on whether they have narrowed the gap between themselves and Mamelodi Sundowns on the back of their triumph in the MTN8 final.
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However, Steve Komphela, who is now in charge of Moroka Swallows after vacating his position as assistant coach at Chloorkop before the season started, believes the tide is turning the “monster” that is Sundowns.
Despite a record-breaking start to the DStv Premiership season, Sundowns were given a reality check by the Buccaneers in the final of the top-8 competition. They lost 3-1 on penalties at Moses Mabhida Stadium last Saturday.
“The game that happened at Moses Mabhida, I think it was like the second half at Orlando Stadium,” Komphela noted while referring to an earlier league match between two sides where Sundowns recorded a narrow 1-0 win against a spirited Pirates team.
“Pirates had a great game and they stepped up. Even the comments from the Pirates coach after the match, he said they left it too late. Then he went into the cup final at the back of that second half. Now, did it send any message to the rest of us as technicians? Yes.
“If in the EPL, Manchester City can be challenged or Brighton can challenge teams they way they do and Arsenal as well, it tells you coaches are watching the game. They are coming up with thoughts and they are also trying to be creative in terms of how they solve the monsters and Mamelodi Sundowns are no different.”
Interestingly, Komphela’s side will play the league champions on October 29 after the FIFA international break. It remains to be seen if the 56-year-old will throw caution to the wind against his former employers.
“They (Sundowns) have set the bar so high and every coach in the country must look to say, ‘how do I deal with this monster’,” Komphela said.
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“You have two ways like in any situation, it’s either you take the initiative or you give the initiative. If you give them the initiative and give them the ball and say ‘I’m going to use space’ you’ll never get it back. So you’ll resolve to say I’m going to compete for the ball. If you have it I’m going to demand that I get it back and when I have it I’m going to make it a point that utilise it so when you have it I’ll look for it then you have a chance.
“Let’s be fair and honest. If you go play Mamelodi Sundowns and you sit back, are you going to do it for 90 minutes? Chances are that you might lose, the worst part of it is that if you concede in the first minute, then the plan is out of the window.”