On Tuesday when a colleague informed me about a story that had landed on his desk about Mkhanyiseli Siwahla and Mark Mayambela having arrived at Mpumalanga Black Aces' training grounds under the influence of alcohol, I shook my head.
Not that I did not believe what he was saying, as these are some of the shenanigans we have sadly come to expect from some of our so-called top players. I strongly feel that sometimes, especially in this case, it seems as if it's a tendency to overrate our players. Their ability alone seems to be enough and there is no doubt that these two are exceptional players who can do unbelievable things with the ball at their feet, but what have they really done to make us believe that their talent works for them?
Firstly, let me talk about Mayambela who, over the past three seasons, had people questioning the Orlando Pirates technical team’s decision to constantly overlook him. I would not think top coaches like Ruud Krol, Julio Leal, Augusto Palacios and Roger de Sa would be stupid enough to give a potential match winner in their squad minimal playing time.
When he moved to Aces at the beginning of this season, it was a case of ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ for Mayambela. He had not started a single league game, and had only made it to the bench on one occasion (although at one stage he was injured). He made a cameo appearance against Bucs in the Telkom Knockout, and that was it.
So much for a player who left Pirates having made all sorts of claims, like he wasn’t given enough chance to play. I have nothing against Mayambela at all, but one only needs to look at the chances he got and how he fluffed them. His tendency to play to the gallery has always been his undoing, and it put a helluva lot of pressure on him. If I were to describe him, I’d say he’s a talented footballer who complicates the game.
Back to our tendency to overrate players. From the word go, the Khayelitsha-born star was compared to the late Scara Ngobese and I asked myself why. Although Scara made a football pitch look like a circus at times, his dribbling skills benefitted the team and knocked the confidence of the opposition. They were done with purpose and direction. He created goals for Collins Mbesuma and helped Kaizer Chiefs claim back-to-back league titles.
Now, except perhaps for Bucs’ match against Wits in the 2011/12 season where the Soweto giants were 2-0 down and Mayambela came on and contributed massively to their 3-2 win, in which other game would you say he put up his hand and said, ‘I am the real deal’? He was voted by the fans for last season’s Carling Black Label Cup, and was booed by the very same fans in the first half.
We are quick to paste players like Mayambela on the front cover of our publications and glorify them as the best things since sliced bread, but their actions off the field and commitment on it, tell a totally different story.
In the Aces team, you can tell me about Thabo Qalinge and Themba Zwane, just not Mayambela!
Catch you on the rebound!
By: Lunga Adam
Follow Lunga on Twitter: @Lunga110