JOHANNESBURG – Before he receives the ball with either foot; Reneilwe Letsholonyane is already two steps ahead of his opponents, knowing exactly where he is going to play the ball next.
This special ability he possesses always leaves opposing players tracking his movements in awe.
In the heart of midfield, where the SuperSport United star plays, his eyes serve as what could be likened to a battleship’s radar, always allowing him to know where to play a perfect pass to help his side infiltrate their opponents and launch a perfect attack.
Exceptional control of the ball is what ‘Yeye’ honed and mastered from a young age. It’s the countless amount of hours he spent watching his idols Donald ‘Ace’ Khuse and Doctor Khumalo that helped him develop into a player he is today.
“My style of play is influenced by a whole lot of people I looked up to,” Letsholonyane says.
“I was that kid who preferred staying indoors to watch a good game of football ball while my peers were outside on the streets playing. I even went through the trouble of getting video cassettes of great former South African players I grew up hearing stories about.
“I used to watch Ace Khuse, the late (John) ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, Doctor Khumalo, the late (Patrick) ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe, Jomo Sono and Ntate Kaizer Motaung, and was always inspired by how they played. I wanted to do what they did too.”
With the ball, the 34-year-old midfielder always believes every attacking move he initiates will pan out fine. On either wing, he is supported by the ever-running Mandla Masango and Thabo Mnyamane, who can swop roles at any time of the match, creating the required confusion in the enemy’s camp.
The workhorse that is Kingston Nkhatha and the ever-roaming Jeremy Brockie always lurk upfront in anticipation, always waiting for what will transpire next from the master’s educated right foot.
“I always believe each play I create will go on to benefit the whole of the team, especially in the attacking third,” Letsholonyane says.“You have to believe, not only in yourself but in your teammates as well.
"At SuperSport, I play with a group of talented players and we always make each other look good. I’ve got teammates who are also good with the ball and that makes it easier for the team to tick moving forward. That’s what has worked for us. We work hard for one another.”
On Wednesday, Matsatsantsa will host a Bloemfontein Celtic who are just three points away from the relegation zone.
“Going into this season, we told ourselves that we would challenge for everything that’s on offer of us,” Letsholonyane says.“The league title is out of our hands. However, we’ve also done well in both our Nedbank Cup and the Caf Confederation Cup campaings. We reached the group stages on the continent and we are in the Nedbank semifinals.
“The Celtic match is not going to be easy,” Letsholonyane adds.“But we go into it hoping to come out with a win. And we plan to do exactly the same with our remaining fixtures after this tie.”
And he'll be the driving force behind it all.