Steve Komphela ready to put it all on the line for Kaizer Chiefs
Such is the desperation to win a trophy at Kaizer Chiefs this season that coach Steve Komphela has said he would lay down his life to do so.
It was a comment in jest that drew such chuckles from the assembled press, but also betrays a coach who perhaps knows that it is win or bust in the Nedbank Cup this season.
Chiefs are not out of the league running, but Mamelodi Sundowns remain heavy favourites to take that crown, and so the Nedbank Cup represents perhaps the only opportunity for Chiefs to end a barren run of trophy success.
Unless their fortunes change, they are likely to finish an unprecedented third season without silverware.
Komphela is up against Lamontville Golden Arrows in Soweto in the Nedbank Cup Last 32 on Sunday, and for him, defeat is unthinkable.
"If the Almighty were to come now and say to me‚ 'Make a choice - that you perish‚ and we grant the trophy to Kaizer Chiefs‚ or you stay alive and [do not] compete for the trophy'‚ do you know what my option would be?
"'Take my life‚ my Lord. Let the people celebrate'. Yes. That's life - selflessness," Komphela said.
"If you're a man of process‚ you should never at any given stage consider yourself. You consider the process. That's selflessness.
"Many people have gone through unbelievable challenges, but for their bravery in serving the process they came through unknown.
"And many of us would look to serve ourselves. Through minor hiccups we fail to go through because we consider ourselves more‚ ahead of the process.
"Chiefs winning the Nedbank would be great. And coaches must not be paranoid. Coaches are human beings - we serve people.
"Sport is like education," Komphela continued. "Sometimes in your own little challenge you are such an inspiration and great‚ great influence.
"Once you go through fire‚ you are easing somebody's fire somewhere."
Komphela will be hoping his side find the fire in their bellies in a season when they have tended to blow hot and cold, rising to the occasion against the bigger clubs but dropping points in the league they would have expected to claim.
They have already played to a 0-0 home draw with Arrows this campaign, and showed good from in recent stalemates with Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, having not lost a match in two months.
Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen has hinted that he will field a weakened side for the contest with players from his MultiChoice Diski Challenge (Reserve League) team to give them exposure.
"I believe we are going into the Cup as underdogs, and the Nedbank Cup is a competition that can be won by underdogs. That's what makes it an exciting competition to play." Larsen told reporters.
"We are a strong unit of players, and the Cup gives us reprieve from the PSL and allows us to shift focus to the Cup. The stage couldn't be better to have some of the Diski players showcase themselves, and we are excited to see them prove themselves."
It is by no means the only key fixture this weekend, as Orlando Pirates seek revenge against Ajax Cape Town for a 3-0 mauling in the league last week in a game played on Saturday night.
Ajax look set to continue playing forward Tendai Ndoro against the advice of just about everyone, and this will be a tough challenge for them at the Orlando Stadium.
Other matches on Saturday see National First Division side Super Eagles take on top-flight Free State Stars at a ground they both share, Goble Park in Bethlehem.
Third-tier Swallows FC host Maritzburg United, while Premier League Chippa United travel to Phiva Young Stars in Mpumalanga and there is a battle between two third-tier sides in Cape Town when Steenberg United host Orbit College.
The pick of the other matches on Sunday sees SuperSport United travel to Bloemfontein Celtic having beaten their opponents 4-2 in the league last weekend.
There will also be three games played next Wednesday as Platinum Stars host Baroka FC.