JOHANNESBURG – There is obviously some confusion regarding the real reason behind Joseph Molangoane’s omission from the Kaizer Chiefs match-day squad earlier in the season following the player’s denial this week that he’d been ill or had any trouble off the pitch.
Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela had said more than once that suggestions that Molangoane had disciplinary issues were “hogwash”.
Only the club knows the truth, but for now, the pint-sized midfielder is thriving in somewhat unfamiliar terrain.
“I have played at right back before. This is where I launched my career when I was at Platinum Stars under the same coach (Komphela). Even at Jazzy Queen’s academy, I was playing the same position,” Molangoane said this week.
To break back into the team, the 29-year-old, who had missed the first seven Premier Soccer League games this season, was told he would have to play as a right wing-back. He would have to support in attack and cover some distance to also help in defence.
“The coach sat me down and asked me if I would be willing to play this position,” said Molangoane, who has twice been voted Man of the Match in the five matches he has played in this “new” role.
He is undoubtedly one of the players to watch when Chiefs tackle Bidvest Wits in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout at the Bidvest Stadium today (3.30pm kickoff).
“We obviously had a lot of injuries (nine key players sidelined) and the coach called me into his office to explain what would be required (of me) to play in that position,” Molangoane explained.
“I told him I don’t have a problem playing there, all I needed were instructions of what I have to do on the day of the game.
“We know games are not the same. I think I have done what he wanted me to do in those matches.
“I can’t speak for the coach, but I think I have done well and I can still improve in that position. I can do much better, and I am prepared to play there for the rest of the season if that is what he wants.”
Molangoane was one of the most enterprising players for Chiefs last season after he arrived as a free agent from Chippa United in December last year.
Amakhosi fans were surprised to see the attacking midfielder left on the bench or in the stands at the start of this current campaign.
“I am not trying to prove anything to anyone now that I am playing again. I am at work and doing a job. Being on the field is my happy place,” Molangoane said, adding that he’d been on the sidelines purely because of Komphela’s selection choices, not illness or discipline.
“I have been in football for quite some years,” he said.
“It happens that you are not going to be selected for certain games because the coach has his plan and knows what he wants.
“I was ready, always there and waiting for the opportunity. And when it came, I took it.
“To be honest, there was nothing off the pitch that kept me from playing; it was just the decision the coach took. I respected it and I had to work twice as hard.”
It’s good to see, then, that Komphela awards hard work.