Lebogang Manyama is happy to trade the prestige of playing overseas for a regular challenge on the football pitch.
After a superb season at Cape Town City, which saw him snatch the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL’s) Golden Boot award, the attacker transferred to Konyaspor in Turkey. A management team in flux, however, was a pivotal factor that saw him played sparingly and he returned to South Africa after only a year. Kaizer Chiefs were happy to provide an outlet and he slotted straight in, featuring from the start in the vital 4-1 win against his old club last week.
“I always dreamt about it [going overseas], but it didn’t work out. But everything happens in God’s time,” Manyama says.
“I think I’ve come here at the right time, bringing all the experience that I’ve got and can add value to the team.
“I thought: ‘You know what?I want to play football. Never mind the money, never mind Europe. If you’re enjoying your football then that’s what counts.If you’re not enjoying yourself then there’s no point.’” Manyama joined Amakhosi when they were beginning to fashion a bit of a crisis for themselves, kicking off one of the worst starts in club history. But with impressive back-to-back wins in the past week —against City and then Free State Stars —the corner looks like it just may be on the verge of being turned.
What part the former PSL player of the year has to play in that revival will be intriguing to watch. Neither he nor coach Giovanni Solinas had a full pre-season and that shows in the inconsistent line-ups of late —a myriad of changes were made against Ea Lla Koto despite the previous team securing an impressive three points.
Solinas promised three weeks ago that a preferred First XI could feature Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro, Siphelele Ntshangase and Manyama. We wait to see if that’s just fantasy or if the Italian actually has plans to build a cohesive attacking unit out of his stars.
Manyama himself is unconcerned about such future deliberations, and repeatedly stresses his joy at being effective on the field. With the ball at his feet, the noise around what his club is doing fades away.
“There was pressure when I was playing at City, there was pressure when I was playing at SuperSport and there was pressure in Turkey,” he says. “That’s football. Too many players try to play 30 games in one game. For me, it’s all about the next cup final on Saturday. I don’t want to know what’s happening in the next game.”
- Chiefs take on AmaZulu at the FNB Stadium on Saturday at 6pm. Should other weekend results go their way, victory could see them sit atop the PSL table.