Steve baffled by state of KZN football

Steve Komphela's Golden Arrows finished ninth in the league, missing out on next season’s MTN8 by one point. | BackpagePix

Steve Komphela's Golden Arrows finished ninth in the league, missing out on next season’s MTN8 by one point. | BackpagePix

Published May 28, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Golden Arrows head coach Steve Komphela has been left bamboozled by the state of KwaZulu-Natal football after yet another disappointing season in the different tiers of domestic football.

The conclusion of the 2023/24 campaign saw Abafana Besthende, AmaZulu, Royal AM and Richards Bay finish outside the top eight in the DStv Premiership standings.

The Natal Rich Boyz will take part in the play-offs in the coming weeks, following a similar route taken by Maritzburg United last season, who suffered relegation to the second tier.

Goalscorers Ryan Moon, Siyanda Mthanti and Olwethu Ncube of Golden Arrows celebrate scoring against AmaZulu in a 3-1 victory. | BackpagePix

For the majority of the campaign, three of the four KZN clubs have occupied the bottom five slots in the standings with Arrows suffering an extraordinary capitulation to find themselves outside the top eight.

Komphela, who was entrusted with the responsibility of steadying the Arrows ship after 11 consecutive defeats, reflected on the campaign and what the standing indicated on the final day.

The former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns mentor admitted unfamiliar confusion at the position of clubs hailing from a province with strong support structures.

The 56-year-old coach even went as far as researching the four clubs’ reserve sides, none of whom finished inside the top eight as well, the highest being ninth-placed Richards Bay.

“There was a moment where I looked at all the KZN teams and asked myself why we were all just at the bottom and on the same level and, thereafter, I checked how things stood in the DStv Diski Challenge and there was a similar pattern there as well,” he explained.

“You start looking for scientific reasons, maybe the altitude has a part to play in these teams performing away, but the likes of Manning Rangers were successful in the past under Gordon Igesund, so we can’t hold onto that reason as well.

“Something needs to be done because it’s not nice that we have all of these clubs not playing at that high level when this province is so passionate about football.”

Arrows finished the season in ninth place on the log and missed out on a top-eight place by one point.

The Lamontville-based club won 10, drew eight and lost 12 of their 30 matches during the season and had one of the most bizarre campaigns of any club in recent years.

The club had occupied second place during the opening stanza of the season but a treacherous run in the middle saw them drop down the log with their six draws in their last nine games perhaps an indicator of the kind of season they’ve had.

Arrows closed off the season in fine style, however, as they convincingly dispatched their arch-rivals AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

Komphela was left to wonder what could’ve been had his side managed to get some of the matches over the line.

“Unfortunately for us, we’re going to miss out because Polokwane City won but how nice would it have been if we were there as well, but we have ourselves to blame,” he said.

“The number of draws we played (cost us) unnecessarily. In a full summary of the season, we were flying in the first round but unfortunately hit a slump. We found our balance towards the end but this win (over AmaZulu) makes us feel as if we could’ve done so much more in the other games as well.”