Mathoho needs stronger competition – Mkhonza

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - MINENHLE MKHIZE

LACK OF strong competition is the rea­son be­hind Erick Mathoho’s un­char­ac­ter­is­tic loss of form.

This is the be­lief of for­mer Kaizer Chiefs de­fender Siphiwe Mkhonza who is now a tele­vi­sion an­a­lyst.

For many sea­sons a rock of the Amakhosi back­line, Mathoho has spec­tac­u­larly gone off the boil and re­cently be­came a li­a­bil­ity for not only his club but the na­tional team as well. The once revered striker even earned two red cards within a week as he cost Chiefs and Bafana Bafana matches.

“I think he is too com­fort­able be­cause there is no one who is strongly chal­leng­ing him, es­pe­cially at Chiefs,” said Mkhonza, a league ti­tle win­ner with the Glam­our Boys back in 2004/05.

“It seems he has taken it for granted that he has noth­ing to worry about be­cause he plays week in and week out, whether he per­forms or not..”

Look­ing back at his time with Chiefs, Mkhonza ac­knowl­edges that it was competition that kept him on his toes, with the sea­soned Pa­trick Mabedi as well as in­ter­na­tional Fabian McCarthy part of the squad’s cen­tral de­fend­ers.

Mathoho, on the other hand, has Lorenzo Gordinho, Daniel Car­doso and young Siyabonga Ngezana for ad­ver­saries – not nec­es­sar­ily the kind of play­ers to keep a mul­ti­ple ti­tle-win­ning in­ter­na­tional look­ing be­hind his shoul­der.

“The fact that he has been play­ing for so long and there’s no one who is chal­leng­ing him has made him to re­lax,” Mkhonza said, adding that Mathoho has seem­ingly for­got­ten that as a de­fender it is about the work he puts in.

“For us (de­fend­ers) it is a lit­tle harder un­like at­tack­ers who can sur­vive on in­stinct and not hard work. “For a de­fender, it is im­por­tant to stay con­sis­tent for a long time and this is es­pe­cially so if you have strong competition. With­out it, there is a dan­ger of drop­ping the ball,” With Mathoho off-form, coach Steve Kom­phela has had to change his play­ing pat­tern. “If you look at the last five re­sults, it tells you that the new sys­tem of 3-5-1-1 is work­ing for them. It is a for­ma­tion a lot of coaches are ap­ply­ing now in mod­ern foot­ball, they pack the mid­field. It suits Chiefs be­cause they don’t have enough depth. They’ve used (Phi­lani) Zulu at left­back even though he is not an out and out left­back. It shows they don’t have many num­bers in the full­back po­si­tion. They’d rather play three de­fend­ers and con­vert their wingers in to full­backs,” Mkhonza ex­plained.

While Ngezana has been a rev­e­la­tion since his scor­ing de­but against Mamelodi Sun­downs, Mkhonza be­lieves it is too early to make a call on the 19-year-old.

“The mis­take we make in South Africa is to give credit too early. With good coach­ing I think Ngezana will de­velop. He hasn’t reached his prime as yet .You don’t want to lie to him and tell him ‘you are there’ when he is not. If you do that you are crip­pling him and he will for­get to work on the fun­da­men­tals of the game like most of our young promis­ing play­ers. They tend to for­get to work hard. For me an ath­lete needs to work hard all the time. It doesn’t mat­ter how you per­formed in your last match.” It would ap­pear Mathoho has for­got­ten to work hard all the time, And the lack of competition is clearly not do­ing him any good.

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