For as long as I can remember, George Lebese has always been a “promising” player without ever fulfilling that promise.
If he didn’t play for Kaizer Chiefs, he wouldn’t have garnered as much attention as he has in a somewhat underwhelming career.
Lebese scored 30 goals in 197 matches he played for Chiefs and produced 22 assists. Numbers aside, Lebese didn’t consistently take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn things around when Chiefs’ chips were down. Simply put, he will not go down in history as one of the best to don the black and gold.
This might sound harsh but these are the words Lebese needs to hear if he is to be a success at Mamelodi Sundowns under a coach who doesn’t mince his words and demands excellence.
Lebese was comfortable at Chiefs, playing for the team with the biggest support base in the country. When Steve Komphela benched him, he didn’t refine or develop his game but took to social media to express his frustration and desire to “play football again, regardless of which shirt”. His move to Sundowns allows him a new start and gives him an opportunity to fulfill his promise as there is no denying that the 28-year-old is talented.
Pitso Mosimane raves about Lebese. I have heard the coach say he would fit in at the club and believes he can turn him into one of the best in the country. Lebese hailing from Mamelodi is a bonus for the Brazilians who want to “own” their home.
Lucky Mohomi hasn’t panned out to be the poster boy the club wanted in having a Mamelodi lad shining at the Brazilians. Lebese could do that, especially with his huge marketing appeal.
But Lebese must be prepared to work hard. There are a number of players who joined Sundowns with promise and turned into something great.
Bongani Zungu and Keagan Dolly were promising youngsters when they joined the club. Now Zungu is playing in Portugal, attracting interest across Europe, and Dolly is playing for Montpellier.
Khama Billiat had lots of promise but was erratic in front of goals. He became a force on the continent, finishing as runner-up in the Caf award for Player of the Year based in Africa. His scoring touch has improved just like that of Percy Tau, who went from the NFD to winning the Caf Champions League and taking his bravery to Bafana Bafana.
These are just some of the examples Lebese can look at and be confident he made the right decision.
For Lebese to succeed though, he must first admit he hasn’t done as much as he should have in the nine years he spent at Amakhosi. It’s time he takes his game to the next level by succeeding in a club with ambitions to not only conquer the country but the continent. His contribution at Sundowns will be judged by not only being flashy on the ball, he also needs to score.
Themba Zwane is a perfect example of the demands Sundowns place on their wingers. They have to defend, attack and score. Zwane used to only be good on attack. That’s why Dolly played ahead of him because the lad from Westbury also scored.
The last campaign kept us entertained as there were five teams vying for the championship at one point. This season promises to be even better, with a number of plots and subplots. It feels good the long wait is over after the season started last night with Bidvest Wits hosting Golden Arrows in the MTN8.
As much as last season was entertaining, it shouldn’t be the benchmark. Lebese also needs to have a similar mind-set, not be contend with having a few good moments but be consistently good. It’s time for him to deliver.