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