As Kaizer Chiefs continue their pursuit of a piece of desperately needed silverware this weekend, two Amakhosi serial winners, Doctor Khumalo and Marks Maponyane, provided their unique insights on what winning for the Glamour Boys entails and what it takes.
Both ‘Go Man Go’ and ‘16V’ had the luxury of joining successful Kaizer Chiefs teams containing a galaxy of stars, although for both, this came with its own challenges.
“You look at that star-studded team you’re coming into and, of course, weighing on every new player’s mind is that you knew you were there to win trophies, because the team was already winning trophies,” says Maponyane.
“When you join the Club and you meet Chincha Guluva (Kaizer Chiefs Chairman, Kaizer Motaung), he says to you ‘Welcome to Kaizer Chiefs, you are here to win trophies’. It puts you under immediate pressure. Yet, slowly but surely, you feel you are getting it right,” Khumalo adds in an animated conversation between the two legends and www.kaizerchiefs.com.
As Chiefs get ready to play lower-league side Casric Stars in the Nedbank Cup last 16 at FNB Stadium on Sunday evening, they would do well to heed the words of two icons who have won the equivalent of eight Nedbank Cup titles between them.
Maponyane said that for the Club’s players “it was not only about winning, but how you win. What does it take to be a winner?”
Yes, Amakhosi players possessed considerable talent, but there was no magic formula to success and the old adage that hard work pays off, rang true.
“You need effort to win any game, be it a league game or a cup final, from the week leading into the game. It’s in the way you train. People think you win a cup final on the day on the field, but that’s not when you win it. You win it building up to the game. You must train like a dog and play like a king, because you know you’ve worked hard and then things must just work out very easily,” says Maponyane.
For Khumalo, the journey to Chiefs success doesn’t start simply when you sign to become a Chiefs player. In joining Chiefs, you bear an onus to contribute towards the continuation of the Club’s culture of winning.
“You can join the winning team, but still have stage fright. You cannot come here having played for any other team and think it’s the same. When you are with this group of players you must have a winning mentality and be able to compete,” says Khumalo.
The silky, skillful midfielder said in his time, each and every individual at Kaizer Chiefs “had a certain gesture to show we need to turn a game around”.
“Ace (Ntsoelengoe) would clearly show you a sign, Teenage would always demand the ball. You could tell from his demeanour that ‘Mafa’ Maponyane wants this trophy. You guys made scoring goals look easy,” Khumalo joked with Maponyane.
“We made it look easy, but it was not easy. It was mentally easy, because you’ve got to be mentally ready. You can’t say ‘it can go either way’ before a game. I don’t understand this ‘it can go either way’ line. You go to the field to say ‘we want this trophy’. Don’t say it can go either way. You are not a commentator, you are a player. You need to say, ‘I want it, it must go my way’. That’s what we were doing from the time we came out of the changeroom,” says Maponyane, with Khumalo adding “From Tuesday to Friday before a game, I gave it 100 percent”.
For Maponyane, though, there was a difference between being confident and arrogant.
“When that whistle goes, even though I knew I was ready, I would have butterflies, because this is the moment. I would go to the toilet and have a pee that wasn’t coming. That for me is a formula for winning, if you take it for granted and don’t have those things (butterflies), that’s the formula of losing. If, in a cup game or cup final, you go into a game, not with arrogance but with positive confidence, that helps the others,” says Maponyane.
The striker, however, cautioned: “Never think you have arrived, because you are going to be brought down to mother earth with a crush. For any player, never think you are the best. Just think to yourself, ‘I have done my best’, and you will leave a history that has a legacy left behind.”
Both players impressed upon the current generation of Chiefs players the importance of ending the Club’s trophy drought.
“You cannot build a winning team on a group of individuals who have not experienced winning. If you’re not winning trophies, you are not going to have the confidence and the know-how of winning trophies. The generation, or the group that doesn’t win, affects the group that is coming through, whether they are good or bad, because they rely on your experience and then they will leverage on that,” says Maponyane.
The stakes are high, as always, for Amakhosi. The badge is a formidable one to carry, but Chiefs’ former generation of players remain firmly behind the Club and its players with unfailing faith.