Komphela sticks to guns on Swallows playing from back after Pirates defeat
Moroka Swallows coach Steve Komphela is sticking to his guns on his team's playing style of building and playing from the back.
Since the start of the season, Komphela has been experimenting with building from the back, which is among the growing trends used by many teams around the world in modern football.
In their 2-0 DStv Premiership loss to Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night, Komphela stuck to his guns with goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and his defence of Vusi Sibiya, Keenan Philips, Keegan Allen and Falakhe Tshanini mostly playing a passing game from the back.
“Players must know how to play from the back and clearly you have to improve them through positioning, understanding which pass has to follow and knowing what to do when they are under pressure,” Komphela said after the loss that left the Birds in seventh spot with 18 points from 12 matches.
“You try to give all these solutions to them, but at the end of the day it is up to them because they are going to make the decisions in the match. We can’t stop that and we find it to be the sensible way of playing, more especially for African players.”
Komphela said he is playing to the strengths of individual players and the team.
“If you look at our team, if we play long balls how many do you think Gabadinho Mhango can win from [defenders like Pirates'] Olisa Ndah, Nkosinathi Sibisi or Tapelo Xoki? A player like Dumisani Zuma and Tshidiso Patjie, how many of those balls can they win if we go long?
“We have people who can pick up the second balls and this is why I am saying you have to play the game in line with the kind of players you have. By nature, African players are highly technical, unless you have a Didier Drogba who you know holds up the ball.
“There are teams that have players who are big and can hold up play but there are also teams that can’t play long when you know you are going to give away possession.
“As soon as you go long, you are putting the ball into competition because it is 50/50 and between a centreback and an attacker who is going to win that ball?
“You look at what Sipho Sibiya did. Every time Pirates came with long balls, he was winning them because he is a big boy. At Swallows, with the composition of our midfield [where] we did not have Andile Jali, Phalane Lantshene, Ntsako Makhubela, Daweron van Rhyn, you can’t expect him to be winning second balls and fighting for the [aerial] ball.”
Though there have been critics of the tactic, Komphela believes he has players who can play to this system that needs defenders to be comfortable on the ball, usually under pressure.
“All I am saying is that let’s start with the ball at the back because we have technique, we can pass, we can move and we have speed. The only thing I think Swallows needs to start doing is to find a way to generate speed as soon as they have come out from a build-up.
“That is what I think Tottenham Hotspur has mastered. The change of tempo as they get into the midfield and go into a counterattack. You will find me stupid to say you want to play on a counter while in possession.
“There is nothing like that. When you are in possession, you are playing and the only team that is going to play on a counterattack is the one who regains possession.
“This means you have to create that artificial counterattack while in possession and how do you do that? As soon as you build on the sides where there is overload, you try to avoid [that side].
“You try to get the side that is under-loaded. We all know that with less numbers, there is a possibility of speed and you trigger a counterattack. These are all [aspects] we work on, and they may not come out this season.
“They may come out after two or three years, or may be taught by the same players to their own teams as they coach [after their careers], because teaching and learning does not bring any immediate outcome.”
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