Over the years, Kaizer Chiefs have seen the careers of their most promising youngsters ending as quickly as they had emerged.
Jabu Pule Mahlangu, Thabiso ‘Skaapie’ Malatsi and Junior Khanye are the first names that come to mind when one thinks of Chiefs rising stars who succumbed to the so-called ‘curse’ of instant fame that came with their extraordinary talent.
Lately, Amakhosi have introduced Mduduzi Shabalala to regular first-team football.
The sensational youngster has appeared 11 times for the Glamour Boys, scoring two goals and providing a single assist which came yesterday when his well-taken free kick was headed home by Siyabonga Ngezana.
After his fearless performance last weekend in the Soweto derby at FNB stadium in Amakhosi’s 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates, Shabalala has drawn comparisons to Chiefs legend, Thabo ‘Tsiki Tsiki’ Mooki.
Shabalala gives Amakhosi that extra spark in their game, something the likes of Mooki, Pule Mahlangu, and Khanye were adored for by fans and coaches alike.
Chiefs coach, Arthur Zwane, has moved swiftly to address the hype around the youngster, explaining the kind of systems they have in place to make sure Shabalala doesn’t fall by the wayside.
Also Read: Former Kaizer Chiefs coach Middendorp : ‘Disgusting’ referee attacked me
“When it comes to that one it’s unfortunate, I spend maybe two to four hours a day with Mdu, you know, it depends who are the people who spend the most time with him,” said Zwane, as reported on Idiski Times.
“Yes we share ideas with his father; he comes from a very good background, so they’re helping us. But the challenge is, it’s not only Mdu, these are the challenges most of our talented players are facing out there.
“The way we hype them up and we end up saying things we shouldn’t be saying, and as soon as they hear those things, sometimes they start thinking they have arrived.
“Luckily with us, we have a system that’s there to help these players,” he added.
“It’s a matter of a player now making a choice, with the system that team has. We have psychologists, we sometimes go for diversity sessions where they discuss their individual problems, like any other person, doesn’t mean if you’re a coach or a soccer player you don’t have your own personal problems.
“So the team has played a huge role that when we come to work, we come to work in the right frame of mind, always positive and always willing and eager to perform, so everything boils down to one thing, you as a player – do you want it? If you want it you will go for it.”
Hopefully, both Chiefs and Shabalala will take full advantage of the systems they have in place to make sure he stays on the straight and narrow.
Pule Mahlangu, Malatsi, and Khanye were perhaps unfortunate not to have the kind of support to deal with the pressure, fame and attention that comes with playing for a giant like Chiefs.
They ended up with the wrong crowd, and the rest is history.
Shabalala will do well to learn from their mistakes and avoid them, by keeping a level head and not allow fame to drag him down.