Kaizer Chiefs appear be re-visiting their interest in Orlando Pirates’ Thabo Matlaba as they look to reinforce coach Ernst Middendorp’s team for the remainder of the 2018/19 season and beyond.
Following Chiefs’ opening Absa Premiership match of 2019 – the 2-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns on January 05 – Middendorp sounded critical of Walusimbi’s performance in his post-match interview after the German mentor had substituted the left-back for Teenage Hadebe at half-time.
In his post-match comments, the German tactician said, in part, “I think everybody saw from the left and right – the long diagonal balls came in and that was lacking from players like (Siphosakhe) Ntiya-Ntiya and Godfrey, who is not really the strongest one in this area, so we sorted it with Teenage and we still had the same power in the forward movement.”
Walusimbi was dropped to the bench for Chiefs’ second match of the year – the 2-0 win over Bidvest Wits on Wednesday as Hadebe was put in the starting line-up by Middendorp.
According to sources, Matlaba remains one of the transfer targets for Chiefs as they want to reinforce their troublesome left-back position.
“Chiefs is interested in Thabo Matlaba but it is something that is being kept under wraps for now as those working on the deal do not want anything to jeopardise it,” said the source.
The news of Chiefs’ interest in Matlaba first surfaced in August, under the club’s former coach Giovanni Solinas. At the time, Amakhosi were believed to be assessing the possibility of signing the player on a free, as confirmed by sources in the know. However, due to the player still having a year on his contract with Bucs at the time, chances of him moving to Bucs’ cross-town rivals failed.
Prior to the start of the season, Chippa United were keen on signing Matlaba on a season-long loan deal, after reaching an agreement with the Buccaneers about it, but the player refused to leave the Soweto giants and opted to fight for his place in coach Milutin Sredojevic’s team.
However, the player’s immediate future with Bucs under the Serbian mentor appears to be in doubt as he is no longer featuring in any of the matchday squads since October, while he has also not been registered for the club’s CAF Champions League campaign that is currently underway. A request for comment has been sent to Chiefs, but at the time of publishing, the Siya had been yet to get a reply from the club.