JOHANNESBURG – If Bafana Bafana attacker Lebogang Manyama was contemplating his long-term future at Turkish club Konyaspor, one of Africa’s best-ever strikers has advised that he practices a little bit of patience before throwing in the towel.
Samuel Eto’o, the ex-Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Cameroon striker, spoke highly of Manyama this week, describing him as “incredible player”.
The two have been teammates at Konyaspor since January when Eto’o joined from rivals Antalya-spor, which could have also contributed to Manyama’s limited game time in leading the line.
“He’s an incredible player, but he just hasn’t had the chance to play much this year. I know that he is a very good player and I want to wish him all the best,” said 37-year-old Eto’o, who was in Zambia as the ambassador for the Castle five-a-side competition hosted in Lusaka.
Manyama was signed from Cape Town City in August last year following a stellar 2016-17 season with the side from the Mother City, a campaign in which he was crowned Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner.
He’d also just broken into the national team in a squad that many had hoped would qualify for the World Cup in Russia, but failed to do so after winning just one of their qualifiers in Group D.
Manyama, who arrived three matches into the start of the Turkish Super Lig, made his debut on September 9 as a second half substitute, was picked in the first eleven for the next game, but subsequently fell down the pecking order.
In the end he would have been disappointed to have only managed seven league appearances, with all but one coming from the bench. He did not score.
Asked what he thought Manyama could improve on in his attempt to command a regular berth in the Konyaspor side next season, Eto’o’s answer was pretty straight-forward.
“He needs to score a lot of goals,” the three-time European Champions League winner said.
“And I think he can do it because he is a very good player.”
But the South African will still have to battle the Came-ronian to get his name on the team sheet as Eto’o, who is a decade older than Manyama, still has two more years remaining on his contract despite closing in on 40.
“I am still fit and I am enjoying myself on the pitch. I think I still want to keep going, but it is not about trying to win the Champions League again or playing in those tournaments.
"I have won it three times (twice with Barcelona and once with Inter Milan) and that’s enough for me. No, I don’t miss it.”
* Mazola Molefe was in Lusaka as a guest of Castle.