Is the big stage too much for Na­tional First Di­vi­sion scor­ers?

CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI timothy@city­

Sta­tis­tics show that play­ers who fin­ish as Na­tional First Di­vi­sion (NFD) top scor­ers strug­gle once they get into the Absa Premier­ship.

Rea­son Chiloane, Ndu­miso Mabena, David Zulu and Phumelele Bhengu were all top scor­ers in the NFD and were quickly snapped up by Absa Premier­ship sides.

They all found the go­ing very tough. As a re­sult, they found them­selves not get­ting enough game time. Even when they did get the chance to play, they strug­gled to re­pro­duce the kinds of per­for­mances that put them on top.

They seemed to be over­awed by the big stage and found it dif­fi­cult to adapt to the new en­vi­ron­ment.

Hareaipha Simba Marumo thinks dif­fer­ent fac­tors lead to NFD marks­men fail­ing to make the grade in the top league, say­ing it mostly has to do with the na­ture of the new en­vi­ron­ment.

“Is it con­ducive for th­ese play­ers to ex­cel? Are they pre­pared men­tally for what is ex­pected of them? Are they aware of what they are let­ting them­selves in for?” asks Marumo.

The for­mer Mamelodi Sun­downs and Plat­inum Stars striker says the play­ers need to be men­tally pre­pared and strong for the new en­vi­ron­ment, which could be de­mand­ing.

“They need to adapt and ad­just their play quickly be­cause the sys­tems are not the same. Se­condly, they need to change how they used to play. More­over, their new team­mates can make or break them,” said Marumo.

“Play­ers are jeal­ous of one another and they will sab­o­tage you if you are not strong men­tally.

“Tac­ti­cally, they need to be sound and also have that lit­tle bit of ar­ro­gance to­wards their new team­mates, who may see them as threats and ob­vi­ously try to un­set­tle them. This is where their coaches need to come to their res­cue and make them feel at home.

“There is no doubt about their abil­i­ties, as they have al­ready shown in the NFD, but the new en­vi­ron­ment is to­tally dif­fer­ent.”

He says the play­ers need to si­lence their crit­ics and win them over as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I was sur­prised by [Ler­ato] Cha­bangu when he came to Sun­downs from AmaTuks. He just adapted quickly. He was not over­awed by the oc­ca­sion and was on top of ev­ery­thing. He would take set pieces ahead of those who had been there be­fore.”

He said he had ex­pected a lot from the likes of Jomo Cos­mos striker Charl­ton Mashumba and Bhengu last sea­son, but was

Chiloane joined Pi­rates on a three-year deal from Garankuwa United af­ter his 14 league goals earned him the 2007/08 Na­tional First Di­vi­sion top-scorer award. How­ever, he was lent to Thanda Royal Zulu af­ter just one start and two sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances in his maiden sea­son with the Buc­ca­neers. He ended up play­ing in the ABC Mot­sepe League be­fore join­ing Na­tional First Di­vi­sion side African War­riors, where he was re­leased at the be­gin­ning of this year.

Mabena was lured by Or­lando Pi­rates from Win­ners Park af­ter he fin­ished the 2008/09 Na­tional First Di­vi­sion sea­son as the lead­ing scorer in the in­land stream. How­ever, he found it dif­fi­cult to find the back of the net dur­ing his five-year stint at Pi­rates. For­tu­nately, he man­aged to re­vive his ca­reer af­ter join­ing Plat­inum Stars, where he played his best foot­ball. He fin­ished last sea­son on 10 goals and even earned na­tional team call-ups. dis­ap­pointed by their re­turns.

Last sea­son’s top scorer, Thabiso Ku­tumela – who fin­ished on top of the scor­ing charts with 18 goals – fol­lows in the foot­steps of Mabena and Chiloane, who joined Or­lando Pi­rates af­ter their ex­ploits in the NFD.

Oth­ers – Zulu and Bhengu – joined Chippa United and Su­perS­port United, re­spec­tively. But they never re­dis­cov­ered their scor­ing boots.

Marumo’s ad­vice to Ku­tumela is

Bhengu joined Su­perS­port United at the start of last sea­son af­ter his goal-scor­ing ex­ploits for Thanda Royal Zulu saw him net 24 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions – 22 league and two Cup goals. But at United, the striker dis­ap­peared off the radar and fea­tured mostly as a late sub­sti­tute, mak­ing only four ap­pear­ances. His chances of play­ing are slim un­der Stuart Bax­ter, who is re­build­ing the team with ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers. Bhengu is ranked way be­low the likes of Kingston Nkhatha, Jeremy Brockie, Dové Womé and Bradley Grob­ler.

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