Johannesburg - Defender Zitha Kwinika has vowed to give his best at Kaizer Chiefs, saying he owes it to coach Arthur Zwane who believed in him from the outset.
Kwinika, 28, is a Chiefs’ development product having been recruited for the youth structures by Zwane during his stint in the lower ranks in 2014.
But he was unable to crack into the first team. A feat that saw him spend some time at Chippa United, Thanda Royal Zulu, Bidvest Wits and recently Stellenbosch.
After his impressive first season at Stellies, he was rewarded with the captain’s armband in his second season by coach Steve Barker.
Kwinika aced his role to the tee, leading the team from being perennial relegation candidates to a top four finish last season.
His exploits didn’t go unnoticed as he was crowned the Club’s Player and Players’ Player of the Season before Chiefs came calling.
Kwinika and Stellies duly heeded to Amakhosi’s call as the Soweto giants are embarking on a reconstruction phase under Zwane after a seven-year trophy drought.
Kwinika is looking forward to making his senior team debut for Chiefs and repaying the faith shown to him by Zwane who brought him since his early playing days.
“I’m really, really excited (to reunite with coach Zwane). You know the story about me coming to Chiefs,” said Kwinika during Chiefs’ family day on Saturday.
“I was playing for Lamola in Meadowlands. He was the one who said I should come to Kaizer Chiefs from the start.
“So, I’d say he made me, yeah. But he played a role in that. I am excited, and I think I need to play my part in helping him and the team.
“I think if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. So, when I have the opportunity to represent him and the team, I think I’ll do that with all that I have."
Albeit having a sterling season with Stellies last term, there are many pundits who feel that Kwinika is underrated in local football.
His statistics and data analysis were impressive compared to his counterparts who also got a nod from Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos who’s all about selecting players based on form and youthfulness.
But does he feel he’s underrated?
“Stats are stats. But sometimes being underrated is one of the best things because people don’t know what to expect from you on the pitch,” Kwinika replied.
“But I think you cannot write off stats as well because they do play a role. I am one person who analysis his game. I know the benchmarks of certain centre-backs.”
“So I think that on its own helps me to improve because improvement and getting better by the day is what is important in this game.”
Kwinika knows that he can’t single-handedly inspire Chiefs back to the glory days. And that’s why the team will have to work as a collective.
The club management have invested in the team’s revival, signing as many as eight new players, including Kwinika’s teammate at Stellies Ashley Du Preez.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s one of those. But I think it’s part of our job as well. Expectations and performances are part of the things that we signed up for,” Kwinika said.
“I know that it’s not about me. I can never do it alone. It’s about us as a collective, although I need to play my part. I need to tackle when I need to.”