When news was announced that Morgan Gould and Eric Mathoho were signing for Kaizer Chiefs at the start of the 2012/13 season, it seemed the writing was on the wall for Tefu Mashamaite.
The season before he'd managed just 12 PSL appearances for the club in a dissapointing campaign, and the arrival of two established big name central defenders suggested more time on the bench in future.
However, it seems the player failed to read the script because since Gould and Mathoho arrived at Naturena, Mashamaite has taken his game to a whole new level. As a result, he's arguably gone on to become a key centreback for the Glamour Boys in recent times.
We put Chiefs' key three centrebacks under the microscope to analyze why Tefu Mashamaite is so important to the cause. The defender's successful partnership with Mathoho is undeniable - together they've kept nine clean sheets and achieved 11 wins in 13 games played.
In fact, Chiefs concede just 0.38 goals per match when Tefu and 'Tower' are alongside one another. This is better than the combination of Mashamaite and Gould - this pairing concedes 0.60 goals per game. They also have fewer clean sheets as well suggesting they aren't quite as tight as a defensive unit.
Neither Gould or Mathoho are comfortable at playing in the left centre-back position, as they're both right-footed.
Whereas, Mashamaite is left-footed and slots in well alongside a right-footed partner. Tefu and ‘Tower’ are also more active in passing the ball out from the back than Gould. Mathoho makes 29.1 successful passes per game while Mashamaite makes 23.5 good passes. Gould averages 18.6 passes per match.
They also make more interceptions and clearances per game as well. However, Gould averages a slightly higher tackle rate in every encounter he plays.
Nonetheless, what’s clear in both combinations is that Mashamaite is the key man. His ability to defend the inside-left channel is very good compared to either of the two other centrebacks.
To highlight why 'Tower' and Tefu are the key central defensive pairing - Chiefs win 85% of the time when they're together. This compares to the 60% achieved by Mashamaite and Gould.
Interestingly, Mathoho and Gould have rarely featured together which seems to indicate they don't quite give the right balance at the back. With that said, it appears clear in the numbers why Tefu and 'Tower' are such a strong pairing.
They work well together, maintain possession effectively and keep plenty of clean sheets as well. In summary and as a result, Mashamaite's emergence as a regular starter has become as an important part of Chiefs' defensive framework in recent times.