When I first heard people hailing Mhlengi Cele who is at the peak of his career at the age of 29, I assumed he was a cricket player, but to my surprise I found out he was actually a football player in the National First Division (NFD) playing for Thanda Royal Zulu. The former Chippa United Player who is sitting on 12 goals in 12 games has caught the eye of a number of PSL teams, but the presence of Kazier Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung and coach Steve Khompela at the clash between Thanda Royal Zulu and Amazulu has raised some eyebrows with some believing he is well on his way to Naturena to join The Glamour Boys. And one can understand why Amakhosi would be interested in signing Cele. Chiefs’ strikers have struggled to find the back of the net this season. In the league alone Khompela’s men have scored just 12 goals in 11 matches, with defender Lorenzo Gordinho and George Lebese scoring the most goals – 3 each. And the Amakhosi faithful are not happy.
So Kaizer Chiefs top goal scorer’s is a defender Lorenzo Gordinho and out of favour Lebese 🙂 and both on 3 goals !!! Kunzima #AbsaPrem
— Diski Dance (@Siphiweh_B_G) November 28, 2016
Katsvario has more goals than Edward Manqele.. in Manqele’s entrie Chiefs career..
Let that sink in?..
— Simphiwe Mantini (@Simphiwe_Chef) November 29, 2016
Followers of the beautiful game might remember when then-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson signed a 29-year old Robin Van Persie from Arsenal for the princely sum of £24million in 2012. Although the purchase of an aging player was seen by some as foolish, Sir Alex Ferguson needed a player to stop cross-town rivals, Manchester City, from building the dominance. The Dutchman was the finished product and ended up getting the golden boot in his first season at Old Trafford. Just like The Red Devils at the time of the Van Persie transfer, Amakhosi are not underperforming they lack composure in front of goal this season. They need a player who will hit the ground running and start converting the countless missed opportunities that has typified Chiefs under Khompela. Could Cele be that man? Maybe. Selwyn George has also scored 12 goals for Royal Eagles and the fact that Cele failed to make a big impact when he played in the ABSA Premiership for Chippa United two years ago (scoring just 2 goals), suggests that scoring may be easier in the National First Division. Nevertheless, a goal per game remains impressive, whatever the level.
But will Thanda let go of their talisman in January? Thanda is currently at the top of the NFD log, which means that to sell Cele could be to risk Thanda’s bid to gain promotion to South Africa’s top league. Thanda coach Roger Sikhakhane has been clear about his desire to keep the player at Thanda until his two-year contract comes to an end, but he also acknowledges the fact that he has no say in who stays and who goes – that is entirely up to management. As for Cele himself, joining Chiefs would be a dream come true.
If Motaung and Khompela do decide to sign Cele, let’s hope that he won’t follow the footsteps of Phumelele Bhengu. Bhengu had been prolific in front of goals in the NFD three years back but failed dismally in top-flight football after was expected from his move to Supersport United. The Eshowe born striker might be at the pinnacle of his career but the level of top flight football is different. Should Cele sign for Kaizer Chiefs, will he emulate the likes of Knowledge Musona and bring back the glory days at Naturena? We wait and see…