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Siyethemba Sithebe happy to start afresh at Kaizer Chiefs after a difficult six months at AmaZulu

From being an influential player not only for AmaZulu but Bafana as well, it must have been strange for Siyethemba Sithebe to find himself watching from the stands.

From being an influential player not only for AmaZulu but Bafana as well, it must have been strange for Siyethemba Sithebe to find himself watching from the stands. Picture: Gerhard Duraan BackpagePix

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Johannesburg — The freedom that comes with football players signing pre-contracts with a club of their choice is a double-edged sword: a masterstroke, or your downfall.

And Siyethemba Sithebe endured the latter part of those sentiments after deciding to sign a pre-contract with Kaizer Chiefs without getting the blessing of AmaZulu.

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Sithebe continued to train with Usuthu and take home his monthly salary, but he was frozen out of the match-day squad week-in and week-out.

It was a tough period for Sithebe, 29, given the fact that AmaZulu were playing in the Caf Champions League.

A change of coaches — after Benni McCarthy was sacked and replaced by Brandon Truter — didn’t help his cause as he continued to be sidelined.

The decision was made by AmaZulu boss Sandile Zungu, who was aggrieved by Sithebe, whom he felt owed the club an explanation before agreeing to join Chiefs.

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Without the presence of Sithebe, AmaZulu crashed out of the Champions League group stage and snuck into the top eight of the Premiership.

“Obviously (it affected me) because I used to play each and every game, but when they said I won’t play anymore, that affected me,” Sithebe said.

“I am happy that I wasn’t injured, though, because I had been injured before. Now I am starting a new season (with a clean bill of health) with a new team.”

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From being an influential player not only for AmaZulu but Bafana Bafana as well, it must have been strange for Sithebe to find himself watching from the stands.

But does he hold a grudge against Zungu, who was responsible for ensuring that he was starved of game time?

“No, I don’t think there’s a grudge between me and the chairman of AmaZulu, although I heard from the newspapers that I won’t play again,” Sithebe said.

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“He didn’t say that to me personally. But I understood from there. The coach tried to explain to me as well. But I don’t think there are any grudges.”

Sithebe’s job at Chiefs won’t be easy. He is part of a squad that will be expected to reclaim the club’s glory days after enduring a seven-year trophy drought.

That pressure to deliver for one of the biggest clubs in South Africa could either make or break a player, but he is up for the challenge.

“This is a big team,” Sithebe admitted. “And as players, we have targets that we have set ourselves, which are possible to achieve at big teams.

“I also need to have a trophy in my cabinet, so that the day I retire, I know that this was my achievement in football as well.”

With Chiefs keeping some of their players from last season, amid a host of new arrivals, there will be serious competition for starting berths.

But Sithebe is determined to put in the work at training so that he makes the matchday squad every week, in what promises to be a tough season.

“I can see the competition is there. But there are too many games, (and I think) everyone will get a chance to play,” Sithebe explained.

“I also think having healthy competition is something that will push me to perform because if I don’t, someone will take my spot.”

@Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport

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