JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Maluleka wants to make the c-word a regular feature in his vocabulary instead of it being the swear word it currently is.
That c-word is “consistency”, something that has held Maluleka back from not just being good but being great.
The versatile 28-year-old has seen his former national Under-20 teammates he played with in the World Cup in 2007 graduate to Bafana Bafana to play a bigger role there than him.
Darren Keet, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Andile Jali, Thulani Serero, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Kermit Erasmus have been called up to the senior national team more than Maluleka, who still has to wrestle with his demons to add to his five Bafana caps and also become a consistent match-winner for Amakhosi instead of just showing flashes of brilliance.
“One of the things I lack in my game is consistency,” Maluleka said. “I have been working on it. So far so good with the help of my teammates and the technical staff.
“In this day and age, consistency is very important because you have games coming in thick and fast. You need to make sure that you always perform at your best.”
Chiefs had a breather after matches came thick and fast before the international break.
Coach Steve Komphela gave those who weren’t with Bafana a break to recharge their batteries before they take on Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout.
It will be a hotly contested match by two teams looking to change their fortunes.
The Clever Boys are looking to move away from their slump and play like the champions they are, while Amakhosi are chasing their first silverware under Komphela, who is in his third and – possibly – final season.
The midfield battle will be electric against two powerful units. For Maluleka, a former striker, it will not only be about keeping shape in midfield but also helping out upfront.
“In the midfield department, between me and (Hendrick) Ekstein, we should take the responsibility to score goals,” Maluleka said.
“It’s one of our tasks to help the team get goals. We should be able to get ourselves in scoring positions. If I am not high up, I will be helping the team defend.
“If the strikers aren’t scoring goals, the midfield should be helping out. Between the three of us (myself, Willard Katsande and Ekstein), it’s up to me and Ekstein to find the goals.”
Maluleka and Ekstein found those goals against AmaZulu to help Amakhosi reach the semi-finals.
The two goals Maluleka has scored this season have just been a glimpse of what he can offer.
He packs a mean shot which is why Serame Letsoaka played his as a striker with the Under-20s before he was converted to a central midfielder.
While Katsande is the anchor in midfield and Ekstein is the playmaker, Maluleka provides Amakhosi with the best of both – strength and creativity with an eye for goal.
Challenging himself to be more consistent and score regularly could see him make this his season and help Amakhosi end their barren run.
“I don’t think that there’s a player that doesn’t like scoring goals,” Maluleka said.
“If I can put myself in scoring positions more often, I definitely would, but at times it might be the game plan that’s put forward that might prevent me from going forward. I would love to score goals more than I currently am.
“The responsibility should and is put to ‘Pule’ Ekstein. I can maybe join in a bit later in our attack. The way we play, it’s defence first, and we’ll join in later.”