Johannesburg - George Lebese on Tuesday said he’d gotten his groove back - not quite like Angela Bassett in the 1998 movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder feels he is slowly returning to form.
The 27-year-old was again on the score-sheet when Amakhosi beat Ajax Cape Town by two goals with no reply from the Urban Warriors at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban to remain at the summit of the Absa Premiership standings, registering their fourth successive league victory. It’s no coincidence that Chiefs have hit their stride just when Lebese is looking sharp again - there were questions about whether their campaign would be a success right around the time the player was sidelines by niggling injuries this time last year as coach Steve Komphela’s men went on to surrender their championship, finishing fifth on the log table.
At first Lebese was quite modest about how he has performed early on in the season so far and chipping in with two important goals - a winning penalty against Highlands Park away from home and the second in the 2-0 victory against Ajax on Saturday night at the club’s alternative venue. Komphela had to put things into perspective, especially seeing that Lebese could again be a key player when Amakhosi host Maritzburg United on Saturday at FNB Stadium in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout.
“He forgets to mention that he’d been doing well last season until he was unfortunate to suffer from a serious injury, which made it difficult for him to get back into the team,” the coach said, this after Lebese had given the usual rehearsed answers to questions from the press about his own personal display in a campaign that is coming together for Chiefs. “George is one hell of a good player and you know that at any time you can get goals from him,” Komphela added.
It’s true, at one point during his Chiefs career, Lebese was called up by then-Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane in an attempt to shake things up at national team level, making his debut in a friendly against Ivory Coast in November 2011.
But that part of his football has since stalled.
“I think it is every player’s wish to be consistent, especially if that can help the team to keep winning,” he said before elaborating further on why he’d struggled so much in the previous season. Lebese had also been protected by the club and had been warned to stay away from the public limelight after an incident involving an ex-girlfriend almost landed him in jail. In February 2015, the Chiefs midfielder turned himself in for assaulting Sizakele Manonga and damaging her car by smashing the windows of her Porsche in Pretoria.
Lebese was released having settled the R10 000 bail amount.
This is all clearly behind him now.
“I am focusing on my fitness a lot more now and working with the new physical coach (Marco Aurelio Munhoz) to avoid getting injured as many times as I did last season. Those injuries slowed down my progress, little things like groin and muscle injuries. I am more determined to work harder to get back to where I was,” Lebese said.