Lebogang Manyama: Kaizer Chiefs need to be more of a team and less of individuals
JOHANNESBURG – The sombre cloud that has engulfed Kaizer Chiefs recently has seen one of the team’s key men putting his personal targets on the back burner as he tries to inspire the club back to their glory days.
Lebogang Manyama returned to South Africa at the beginning of last term – to join Chiefs – following a frustrating season with Turkish side Konyaspor Kulübü, where he was frozen out for most of the term.
However, the return back to the PSL – where he was crowned the Premiership Footballer of the Season before his departure – had more downs than ups, on and off the field.
In October, the Tembisa-born player was involved in a car accident, injuring his elbow and knee.
Having dusted himself off from that nasty crash, he suffered a long-term injury against AmaZulu late in January, forcing him to sit out for three months.
Back on the field and fit for the new season, Manyama has been impressive for his team in the first two matches, scoring a brace in Chiefs’ 3-2 win over Highlands Park in their league opener, while playing a huge role in their latest 1-0 victory over Black Leopards.
“I don’t think about things that are far away from me. I think at this point in time, it’s about taking it one game at a time. With injuries and stuff, you certainly can’t control those. You just have to learn from them and grow,” Manyama stated.
“I don’t worry much about how I play.
“The most important thing at this point in time is to put Kaizer Chiefs back to where it was, rather than putting myself back to where I was.
“The guys and club have been supportive through the trying times, but I don’t worry much about individual performances.”
Despite Manyama not taking the solo credits for his team’s bright start, coach Ernst Middendorp has unwavering praise for the playmaker’s efforts on the pitch.
“It’s all through the work that I put it,” Manyama said with a smile. “I think he knows the kind of attitude that I have.
“I think he knows that I want to win all the time – although that might not always be the case – and we have a mutual understanding about that.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve learnt a lot from him.”
Amakhosi may be oozing with confidence having made it two wins out of two in the Premiership, however, they are living in uncertain times.
They are not sure whether they can keep the bulk of their integral players beyond the transfer window.
This follows reports that Mamelodi Sundowns are still keen on luring Khama Billiat back to the club, having joined Chiefs last season after his contract was not renewed by Downs.
Middendorp has got a taste of how his team would perform if they were to lose Billiat, the Zimbabwean international having missed the first two games of the season due to a knock.
However, Manyama, who’d have to step up if Sundowns and Chiefs strike a Billiat deal, is adamant they’d regroup as team to fill in the void.
“It’s not about taking responsibility as an individual, but as a team,” Manyama explained.
“Yes, I’ve played well. but we need Khama. I think in any team that he plays in, he’s a very important player, like everybody else.
“It doesn’t matter much about individual performances, but coming from last season, we need to be more of a team and less of individuals,” he said.
With Chiefs having had a bright start to their road to redemption – following the four-year barren run – they’ll meet their biggest test yet when they square off with SuperSport United at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening (6pm).
SuperSport are in scorching form, having defeated Orlando Pirates and Wits in the league and MTN8 quarter-final, where they scored three unanswered goals in both matches.@Mihlalibaleka