Next two matches could be defining for Steve Komphela
The next two league matches could determine the future of under-fire Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela, who had to endure another barrage of abuse from unhappy fans after the 2-1 loss to Baroka FC on Saturday night.
Chiefs now have a two-and-a-half week break from action as international football and then the MTN8 final take centre-stage, but then have an away clash with Mamelodi Sundowns on October 17 and a Soweto Derby with Orlando Pirates four days later.
Defeats in both, a realistic proposition given their recent inconsistent form, and Komphela's position would then look untenable. Victories in those two fixtures would silence the doubters, while avoiding defeat to archrivals Pirates at least.
Chiefs have won just three of their previous 15 matches in all competitions dating back to April. They have six draws and six defeats in that run as well. It is a run of form that would have seen the back of many a Chiefs coach in the past, but the club has shown patience in the hope that Komphela, who has yet to win silverware after two full seasons in charge, can turn things around.
It has been said many times before, but is worth repeating, that he has not been helped by the club's recruitment policy in the transfer market that has been underwhelming to say the least and given him little to work with.
He accepts that his position comes with pressure and while he may have been taken back by some of the anger expressed at him by the crowd in the most recent loss to Baroka, he believes it is borne not from a dislike of him personally, but rather frustration at the form of the team.
"It's about this job, you've got to take it. When they [the fans] voice their opinion, you have to be frank and say, 'They are not happy with the result'," Komphela said after the match. "Do you think they hate you? Well, something else but you, because they love their team and you deal with it.
"There's nothing you can do about what is said about you. The only thing you are in charge of is how you handle yourself. You still have to be dignified and stay focused, have respect and also have respect for them. You can't control anger from outside, but you can control your emotions in terms of redirecting that anger and maybe showing some light."
The problem for Komphela is just how he can turn around the fortunes of the team. Taking a much more defensive attitude brought wins against Cape Town City and Maritzburg United, both with a good slice of luck, but is not a long-term solution for the team.
Since the start of the season they have scored only eight goals in eight games and are in desperate need of a striker or two to partner Venezuelan Gustavo Paez. They do not have the consistency to win the league and Komphela will know that another season without any silverware will signal the end of his stay at Naturena.
He will have another chance to achieve that with the start of the Telkom Knockout at the end of this month, though it is also a competition where an early exit will put him under even more pressure.
Komphela is well aware of this and for him the task is now to find solutions. But hecould not have two tougher fixtures in the horizon on which to do so, especially if Pirates sense their weakness and go for the jugular.