Chippa United midfielder Lehlogonolo Masalesa has attributed the Chilli Boys’ resurgence to a knowledgeable coach, a superb goalkeeper and a bunch of players oozing confidence.
“When we started this season, perhaps we were a bit unlucky because there are games where we were playing well but we were not winning.
“I believe that we have a good crop of players and it was just about us coming out of our shells and taking the initiative in terms of the team doing well. We were let down, at times, by individual mistakes. After we got rid of those kinds of things, we started to see the results,” Masalesa told FARPost.
Dubbed perennial underachievers who usually battle relegation, Chippa have made strides moving from the basement to mid-table on the Absa Premiership standings in an emphatic fashion.
The Chilli Boys are chilling on position 10 with 21 points on the Absa Premiership table following a series of impressive results. Masalesa, who has been sidelined by injury for the better part of this season, has noted coach Norman Mapeza’s efforts and keeper Veli Mothwa’s heroics between the sticks as some of the factors that led to their revival.
“The coach has instilled a lot of discipline in the team. He had a good footballing career and his knowledge of football is enhanced. He has managed to bring the team together to be able to fight for each other.
“I would also give credit to players in responding to what he demands. We knew it was a matter of time before we could turn the corner because we have good players,” said the gangly midfielder known as Vieira.
“Veli has come to the side to give the team stability and really helped us in terms of clean sheets. You know if you keep clean sheets and you get a goal, you will obviously win. He has really helped us. There were games where we struggled in the goalkeeping department,” added the former Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits player player
The 27-year-old says their penalty shootout loss to the 2016 CAF Champions league champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinals in November last year was the turning point for the men from Port Elizabeth.
“We gave Sundowns a run for their money. We really played well, and we scored two goals. We conceded from individual errors and unfortunately, we lost on penalty shootout, which is a lottery.
“It really gave us confidence that if we can put a performance like that against the reigning champions and the team that is doing so well in Africa, what’s stopping us from doing well and getting results against the other teams,” concluded Masalesa.
Chippa’s next assignment is a league fixture against Bloemfontein Celtic at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this coming Sunday.
By Hosea Ramphekwa