JOHANNESBURG – Polokwane City captain Jabulani Maluleke is confident that his legs can still carry him for two or three more seasons of top-flight football.
In his illustrious career, Maluleke has achieved almost everything on offer at club level and at 36 he’s been the backbone behind City’s bright start to this campaign.
City are fourth on the Absa Premiership log with 17 points from 10 matches, trailing leaders Orlando Pirates by five points and two matches.
“We look to end the season in the top eight but if we can end in the top four, that will be a bonus for us. We just wish to get there and it’s a matter of time. There’s unity and a bond among us,” Maluleke said as he and coach Jozef Vukusic bagged the PSL’s October Player and Coach of the Month awards yesterday.
It was a new era for Rise and Shine as they’ve never received such recognition. However, it was deserved, especially considering how Vukusic has turned the team into dark horses that play with confidence after a disappointing finish last season.
“We’d like to give credit to the coach, as he came on board and established the team well,” Maluleke said. “We didn’t start the season well after losing the first two games but I think after that, his philosophy came out and we’ve been winning games consistently. He’s been playing a good role to us.”
Before signing permanently, Maluleke first joined Rise and Shine on a six-month loan deal at the the beginning of 2014 from SuperSport United. At the end of that, he was approached by Orlando Pirates but ditched the hefty pay cheque because he wanted to return the loyalty that City showed him during his first stint.
“I don’t regret that (not signing for Pirates). What’s there to be won? I’ve won the league and Nedbank Cup with SuperSport,” Maluleke said. “I think I did the best move by staying at Polokwane City. Like today, I am receiving an award and who would have known? Maybe I wouldn’t have been playing at Pirates. The team has been taking good care of me and I am enjoying my stay here.”
Like any youngster aspiring to be one of the best in the country, Maluleke is confident he’s achieved that feat. But he hasn’t become big-headed and he still puts in the work at training. He’s arguably the best set-piece specialist in the country but continues to perfect his execution.
“Where I grew up in Soweto, because I couldn’t take long shots and I was young, I taught myself to curl the ball (from distance),” Maluleke explained. “I am happy with my free-kicks at the moment but I think I can improve as time goes on.”@Mihlalibaleka