Pirates' Mokwena says Chiefs miss former coach Komphela’s football smarts

Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena
Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena
Image: Veli Nhlapo / Sowetan

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena stepped up the Soweto Derby mind games on Monday when he suggested 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 does not have enough of the technical chutzpah it effortlessly oozed under the erstwhile mentor.

‘‘Honestly‚ without sounding biased to probably my allegiance to Steve‚ but I think having lost Steve Komphela is in my opinion a big loss for Chiefs from a technical perspective‚” Mokwena said.

‘‘The type of leaders that he is‚ the tactical acumen that he possesses‚ I think in that regard I think 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.

‘‘Without taking anything away from the current head coach (Solinas)‚ but I do think that Steve Komphela you can see with regards to how they played last season and how they play this season.“

Komphela left Chiefs in April approaching the end of three seasons without a trophy at the Soweto giants.

He resigned after fans ran onto the pitch and violently 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 during the off season and has seen a swift reversal of fortune‚ spearheading the cash-strapped and troubled Free State side’s side 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 really 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 regards to the personnel they have made huge strides.

‘‘They have improved drastically I think.

"The acquisitions they have made‚ 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.

‘‘And the players that they have brought in this season have taken the technical and the qualitative perspective.... with regards to the playing personnel‚ (they have) really improved.

The two side will go into the derby with their tails up after advancing to the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout after brushing past Black Leopards and Chippa United at the weekend.

Pirates are second on the standings with 16 points while Chiefs are second two points behind.

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