Manyama fir­ing on all cylin­ders

The Citizen (KZN) - - Editor’s Corner - JONTY MARK

Le­bo­gang Manyama has been de­scribed as like hav­ing a new sign­ing this sea­son by his head coach Ernst Mid­den­dorp, and in the last cou­ple of weeks he has shown ex­actly why, with de­ci­sive strikes in the league at Golden Ar­rows and in the Ned­bank Cup, to save his side from any em­bar­rass­ment against Royal Ea­gles.

The 29 year old showed his hu­man side on Sun­day in wish­ing a “speedy re­cov­ery” on Twit­ter to Mamelodi Sun­downs’ Thapelo Morena, who suf­fered a hor­rific in­jury on

Satur­day against Su­per­Sport United. In front of goal, how­ever, Manyama could well be re­named “The Iceman” for the cool, calm and col­lected way he is hit­ting the back of the net for Amakhosi.

Against Ar­rows, it was Manyama who ar­rived right at the death to send a wellplaced vol­ley into the cor­ner of the net past Si­fiso Mlung­wana, and against Ea­gles, a ma­jes­tic turn and clipped fin­ish made up for a poor miss in the first half at FNB Sta­dium. The 29 year-old now has six goals in league and cup for Chiefs this sea­son, to go with eight as­sists, show­ing just how im­por­tant he has be­come for Mid­den­dorp this sea­son.

It is no­table that Chiefs have thrived de­spite the strug­gles of Khama Bil­liat for form and fit­ness. It was Manyama who bat­tled af­ter join­ing Chiefs at the start of the 2018/19 sea­son, af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing spell in Turkey with Konyas­por. No goals in 13 league and cup games for Chiefs last sea­son tells a story of a man with his own is­sues with in­jury and form, a far cry from the won­der­ful 2016/17 sea­son he had with Cape Town City, the rea­son Konyas­por came in for his ser­vices.

From the mo­ment, how­ever, he net­ted a dou­ble in Chiefs’ league opener against High­lands Park, how­ever, Manyama has been a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion this sea­son, and if Samir Nurkovic’s goals have stolen the show a lit­tle, Manyama also has to be a can­di­date for the same Foot­baller-of-the-Sea­son award that he won in 2017.

With Bil­liat back now to full fit­ness, and Itume­leng Khune even get­ting a game, Chiefs are be­gin­ning to show a squad strength that many doubted would en­able them to last the dis­tance in the ti­tle race.

This could be even more im­por­tant next sea­son, if the ban im­posed on Chiefs by Fifa stands and Amakhosi are not suc­cess­ful in their ap­peal to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS). Fifa’s de­ci­sion to ban Chiefs from reg­is­ter­ing play­ers for two trans­fer win­dows, fol­low­ing a com­plaint from Mala­gasy side Fosa Ju­niors over Aro­hasina An­dri­a­na­ri­manana came as a sur­prise, as it seemed it was Fifa who gave the player li­cense to play for Chiefs at the start of the 2018/19 cam­paign. It would be a bit­ter pill to swal­low for Chiefs, es­pe­cially as “Dax” re­ally failed to make an im­pres­sion in his time at Na­turena. Clubs do have a his­tory of man­ag­ing to at least get their Fifa trans­fer bans short­ened on ap­peal, as Chelsea did this sea­son, when they went to CAS af­ter get­ting a sim­i­lar two-win­dow ban from the world foot­balling body.

Ei­ther way, this story is likely to have plenty more miles in the tank be­fore it is over.

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