JOHANNESBURG – It’s natural for a fringe player to be unsettled, but Kaizer Chiefs right back Kgotso Moleko knows his place at Kaizer Chiefs and says he has no point to prove.
Those who identify him as the next best option for Amakhosi behind regular Ramahlwe Mphahlele will argue that the former Bloemfontein Celtic player has plenty to substantiate for the next few months.
Mphahlele has undergone surgery on his knee and is expected back in action around January.
And Moleko, who joined Chiefs in 2012, is the automatic replacement and has played at right back for the club in the four games since the news that Mphahlele would be unavailable, clocking 90 minutes against Cape Town City, Bidvest Wits, Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows.
There is no reason this sequence shouldn’t continue when Chiefs host Baroka FC at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.
“To be honest, I have nothing to prove. I have been here for long, and have been sitting outside (on the bench) for a long time. I know the culture of the club. It’s important for me to take the opportunity and help the club to win,” says Moleko.
“I am a 24-hour professional. Whether I am playing or not playing, I look after myself. I am always focused and supporting Rama.
“He will tell you that after each and every game, I go to him and say ‘Well done’. For me, it is all about supporting each other. And that works for us.”
Moleko has already played more league games for Chiefs this season than he did in the previous campaign.
He’s used to being the beneficiary when there’s a serious injury – he may very well have been signed as a back-up.
Moleko filled the same capacity when Siboniso Gaxa was the first choice right back under Stuart Baxter and played a small part in Chiefs winning two Premier League titles between 2012 and 2015.
“Me and Rama talk a lot,” the defender says of his competitor.
“Even at halftime, I will go and tell him if there’s something wrong and he wants to figure it out. We are always talking on WhatsApp. The idea is to help each other improve. We spend a lot of time doing that.”
That’s why Moleko – although it is likely that he will quickly drop back to the bench once Mphahlele is fully fit – has not drowned when coach Steve Komphela turned to him unexpectedly.
“It is all about reading the game,” he explains. “And being disciplined, not like before. I used to go all over.
“I am becoming mature and the guys next to me are very experienced and helping me a lot. I think it helps to look after myself. I feel sharp.”
Moleko is also having to deal with the harsh reality that Chiefs fans are incredibly fickle – when Amakhosi are keeping clean-sheets, it’s all thanks to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and almost zero credit goes to the defenders.
Khune has won three Man-of-the-Match awards in the four games Moleko has played.
“It’s difficult because we have a new back-four because the guys are getting injured,” says Moleko, referring to his own inclusion and that of left back Philani Zulu, who has come in for Tsepo Masilela, also out hurt until December.
“I think we are doing well because the energy is there. As far as the formation goes, it’s all about the tactics of the game – which opponent are you approaching.
“You can’t just go to the game with whatever. You need to know their strengths and how they have been doing. I think that is what we must always focus on.”