Mathoho needs stronger competition – Mkhonza
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.