JOHANNESBURG – Even though this is the first time Lebogang Manyama is working with coach Ernst Middendorp, the Kaizer Chiefs forward has an advantage over his teammates when it comes to impressing the German.
Manyama has previously worked with a coach like Middendorp. A coach who is animated on the bench, who doesn’t mince his words and places high demands on his players. That coach is the fiery Muhsin Ertugral, who brought the best out of Manyama at Mpumalanga Black Aces.
“They’re very much similar in a way,” Manyama said. “What’s important is that they want the team to play. They want us to believe in ourselves. We have seen what we can do if we believe in ourselves. A coach is a coach, he screams and has lots of demands. It’s the passion they have.
Personally they’re both nice people who have high demands which pushes you as a player. What has made it easy for me to adapt to his ways is that I have worked with someone who is a lot like him.”
The German coach has converted Manyama from a forward to a deep-lying playmaker, pulling the strings in the Chiefs midfield. Manyama is likely to continue in that position tomorrow in Chiefs’ PSL clash with log-leaders Bidvest Wits.
This match comes after a titanic duel with the reigning league champions Mamelodi Sundowns, and will be followed by an important tie against Zesco United on Sunday in Ndola in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs.
Amakhosi can’t afford to lose these matches, especially after being beaten by Sundowns.
“If you want to swim with the big fishes, you have to go out there and compete,” Manyama said.
Manyama is looking for a change of fortunes this year after a miserable 2018. He didn’t play much at Konyaspor in Turkey, which led to his departure to join Amakhosi. Just as he was settling at Naturena, he was involved in a car accident that set him back in his progress.
“First and foremost I would like to take the team where it belongs because we haven’t won a trophy in a while,” he said. “Even though I am coming from a tough year, I didn’t take what happened to heart because those kind of things happen in life.”
Despite all of those challenges, Manyama didn’t drop his head. Chiefs need that mentality to claw their way out of the hole they find themselves in.
“Growing up isn’t easy,” Manyama said in response to how he survived 2018. “You have to take it and learn, see where you can improve as an individual. Hopefully I can get more game time. At the moment I am taking it one game at a time, and try to improve.”