Manyama wants to keep shin­ing for City

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MI­NENHLE MKHIZE

BE­ING away from the glitz and glamour of Johannesburg has con­trib­uted mas­sively to Le­bo­gang Manyama’s ac­com­plish­ment.

It was Manyama’s night at the Premier Soc­cer league (PSL) on Mon­day at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

The Cape Town City striker walked away with three ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing the big one, the PSL Foot­baller of the Sea­son.

He also won the Play­ers’ Player of the Sea­son and the Golden Boot awards.

The lad from Tem­bisa was re­warded with the whop­ping R425 000 for his con­tri­bu­tion to his club’s suc­cess in 2016/17.

The Foot­baller of the Sea­son award is worth R250 000 and the Play­ers’ Player is re­warded with prize-money of R150 000. In ad­di­tion, there is a R25 000 pay­day for his 13 strikes.

Speak­ing af­ter the awards, Manyama at­trib­uted his tri­umph to “the bor­ing life of Cape Town”.

“There’s noth­ing with me and Cape Town. It is a mat­ter of how I con­ducted my­self men­tally. For­tu­nately all the good mo­ments hap­pen when I’m in Cape Town. It’s a lovely place. We’ve earned so much re­spect in that part of the world,” Manyama said.

“Peo­ple love us on that side. Maybe the rea­son I al­ways do well in Cape Town is be­cause life is slow, re­laxed and bor­ing. That helps us to fo­cus more on the game. If it is work­ing, why change it?”

Manyama seems to en­joy life when­ever he is in Cape Town. He was a mem­ber of the Ajax Cape Town side that played out­stand­ing foot­ball un­der Foppe de Haan in the 2010/11 sea­son.

But dur­ing his spell with Su­per­Sport United, be­fore he joined Black Aces, he made head­lines for the wrong rea­sons, mostly in­volv­ing drink­ing.

“To be quite hon­est, the seven months that I was out (in­jured) taught me a lot about how to ap­proach my game. Even off the field, ob­vi­ously I made a cou­ple of mis­takes when I was at Su­per­Sport. It is some­thing I won’t hide and I learned from my mis­takes. I al­ways say in life you never lose but you learn. Even when I was out I watched the games and told my­self ‘You know what, I must come back and en­joy my­self’.

“Luck­ily when I was in­jured, coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral asked me to join him at Black Aces. I think that was a life-chang­ing mo­ment for me,” Manyama ex­plains.

The marks­man fol­lowed in the foot-steps of le­gends such as Siyabonga Nomvethe, Collins Mbe­suma, Pollen Nd­lanya and Wil­fred Mugeyi, who all won both the Foot­baller of the Sea­son and Golden Boots Awards.

Next sea­son he will be work­ing along­side for­mer Bafana Bafana great Benni McCarthy, who was re­cently hired as coach of Cape Town City.

McCarthy re­places Eric Tin­kler, who joined Su­per­Sport United to fill the void left by Stu­art Baxter, who took on the Bafana coach­ing po­si­tion.

“Be­fore Wits signed Schillo (Steven Pien­aar) we had the best ‘sign­ing’ of the sea­son in Benni. There aren’t enough words to de­scribe Benni. He is some­one who has a lot to share,” Manyama says. “We are lucky to be the first to ben­e­fit from that. All I can ask as cap­tain is that he be given an op­por­tu­nity. Don’t come and com­pare him to Zine­dine Zi­dane, Zi­dane is Zi­dane at Real Madrid and Benni is Benni at Cape Town City. Judge him at the end of the sea­son. He de­serves an op­por­tu­nity to show what he can do.”

It is an open se­cret that Mamelodi Sun­downs are chas­ing the sig­na­ture of Manyama, with coach Pitso Mosi­mane un­equiv­o­cal in his ad­mi­ra­tion for the player.

“It is huge hon­our to hear him say­ing that. He is cur­rently the num­ber one coach in Africa, and Sun­downs are the num­ber one team,” Manyama says.

“This is foot­ball – when you do well you will at­tract at­ten­tion. I’m used to that. When I was do­ing well Ajax, teams like Chiefs and Pi­rates came knock­ing. If it’s all spec­u­la­tion, it is okay, it’s doesn’t bother me. Un­til my team comes to me I will treat that as spec­u­la­tion.” Next sea­son City will be campaigning in Africa, hav­ing qual­i­fied for a CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup spot af­ter fin­ish­ing third.

“I’m look­ing foward to play­ing in Africa. Re­cently I was with the na­tional team in Nige­ria, and I ex­pe­ri­enced the at­mos­phere and those are the kind of stages you want to com­pete on.

“But we must be very care­ful in how we ap­proach the com­pe­ti­tion be­cause it can be dam­ag­ing to our league cam­paign. We have to find a way to man­age it since we have a small squad, but we look for­ward to the chal­lenge,” says the man who now car­ries the ti­tle of be­ing SA’s best player.

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