Lay out the red carpet for MakhaulaThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
Makhehleni Makhaula was undoubtedly one of the most consistent players in the just ended DSTV Premiership last season and the hard working midfield maestro is looking forward to the 2021/22 season as he aims to achieve even more in the new campaign.
For the first time in the history of domestic football, teams from KwaZulu-Natal performed beyond expectations and while AmaZulu finished second and Lamontville Golden Arrows ended fourth sending a clear indication that teams from South Africa’s holiday destination would be teams to watch going forward.
“The performance of the two teams now make the KZN derby very big, not exactly comparable to Kaizer Chiefs/Orlando Pirates, but certainly big enough to draw the attention of the entire country,” said Makhaula.
“This makes will make it even more exciting when fans would hopefully be allowed back to attend at stadiums because the impact and nature of the game will be unique.
“It is going to be a big experience for me personally because I played in the derby last season and we won by a single goal.
“The performance of the teams last season has increased the number of fans of both teams and so the stadiums will be an electrifying atmosphere should spectators be allowed back.”
A quietly spoken and unassuming fellow, Makhaula disclosed that professional football players have secret items that they cannot survive on camp without them and for Makhaula it is his soccer boots and mobile phone.
“If I leave my phone behind then my girlfriend would kill me.”
Makhaula was a vital cog in the AmaZulu engine room, linking both defence and attack with aplomb. He was untouchable in the middle of the field and certainly stood head and shoulders above his peers.
It was certainly difficult to bypass Makhaula who somehow derived a lot of pleasure out of breaking down opposition attacks while linking effortlessly with their front line, feeding them enough ammunition to bombard the opposition.
Makhaula was ever-present and loomed larger than life in an AmaZulu outfit that surpassed their wildest dreams by ending as runners-up, after breathing heavily down the necks of eventual champions Sundowns for the better part of the season.
Sharing a room with Xola Mlambo in camp is a humbling experience because we share a lot about life experiences to help each other grow. Things like life after football and how as individual we can learn from others around us.
“We enjoy each other’s company and I learn a lot from him and I hope he does too.
“Amazulu have been good to me personally and I am well taken care of. The Zungu brothers (new owners of the club) have been very good to us all as a team and the fruitful relationship we enjoy with management makes the environment we are in to always be positive.
“My contract is running for two years with Amazulu and everything is fantastic and I’m looking to keep working hard and achieve great things with the club.”
By ending as runners-up under the tutelage of Benni McCarthy in the DStv championship, AmaZulu have earned the right to participate in the CAF Champions League which would be a completely new territory for Usuthu.
The achievements of Mamelodi Sundowns in winning the continental championship back in 2016 has changed the mindset of local players who now see the continent as a platform to earn global status.
“I’m very proud of my team-mates Veli Mothwa and Victor Sithebe who represented the national team at the COSAFA CUP tournament where they contributed to the country winning gold because they have been working very hard.
“Our target is to maintain last season’s momentum and we are aware that it’s not going to be easy. We would be deceiving ourselves if we think the coming season would be an easy ride because without a doubt we have to re-double our efforts to achieve our objectives.”