Kaizer Chiefs' latest signing, George Maluleka, made his debut for the the club during Amakhosi's recent 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns. For the most part he appeared to have a quiet but solid evening in central midfield, as the Brazilians dominated possession for long spells.
In the game he started alongside Willard Katsande as Reneilwe Letsholonyane is still not 100% match fit following his injury, it appears the 25-year-old could be the long-term successor to Letsholonyane in the dynamic box-to-box central midfield role. It is a crucial position that Yeye fills in that he drives the club forward and links play up effectively from back to front.
Nonetheless, at the age of 31 and niggling injuries starting to take its toll, the Soweto-born midfielder can't go on forever. With Katsande seemingly dominating the specialist holding role in front of the back four, it seems Maluleka has been earmarked to be Chiefs' driving force in the 'Yeye role' in future.
The player commented on his debut on Chiefs' official website. He said, "Doctor (Khumalo) gave me a few supportive tips. I think his influence played a big role in my performances last night. Yeye (Letsholonyane) also told me to relax and enjoy my game."
Our exclusive Soccer-Laduma stats show that Maluleka gave a productive but perhaps not dominating display against Downs. It could be that coach Stuart Baxter opted to protect his back four with two deeper-lying central midfielders to counter the likes of Teko Modise, Bongani Zungu and Hlompho Kekana.
On debut, the Tembisa-born star attempted 33 passes and completed 30 of them for an impressive 90.9% success rate. This showed he kept things very simple and looked after the ball in the limited touches he got in the game. He also made eight interceptions and four clearances which demonstrates the pressure Chiefs were under at times.
Nonetheless, overall, Maluleka gave a very disciplined display although it still remains to be seen how Baxter will use him in future when Letsholonyane is fully fit. Most would probably agree that he's at his best as a box-to-box midfielder, but our stats also show that he has the versatility to drop off into a deeper role as well.