Johannesburg - The battle lines between the top three – Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns – should have long been drawn for the signature of Tebogo Mokoena by now.
However, Sundowns appear to be in the inside lane – as always!
In the past few weeks reports have been rife, saying that the Brazilians have tabled an offer to their rivals SuperSport United for Mokoena, while Chiefs are said to be keen on signing Sipho Mbule from the Tshwane giants.
But every discerning Chiefs supporter - and outsiders - will tell you that it’s in fact Mokoena that Amakhosi need and not Mbule. Sure, the two have played together since their junior days, but they are still unique in their own right.
Mbule is very comfortable with the ball at his feet, especially with dribbling and finding pockets of spaces. That he has managed to distance himself from being a trickster to being able to form constructive passes has made him a standout player as well.
But his defensive game and consistency still leaves a lot to be desired. And that’s why it becomes difficult for experts to rate him as a complete player - unlike his best-friend Mokoena who seems to be maturing with every passing match.
It has since become easy for SuperSport coach Kaitano Tembo and Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos to rate Mokoena as their all-rounder, given how good he is. Mokoena can defend and attack, while he’s a good set-piece taker as well.
Such traits have made it quite easy for the 24-year-old to stabilise any engine room he plays in. A team that seems to be in desperate need of his services are Chiefs, who’ve been disjointed since the last time they won the title.
Since their fall from grace, the number of players that have been called up to Bafana over the years have been few and far between. And that’s not a great record for a club that has the biggest following in the country – due to their huge success.
Signing Mokoena, who’s arguably the most prized local-based Bafana player, will ensure that Baxter also resorts to a trick that worked for him at the club before: assembling a winning and mature team that’s filled with the national team regulars.
The last time Chiefs ruled the land was in 2015 during the first stint of Baxter who, at the time, had duo George Maluleka and Reneilwe Letsholonyane in the core of his midfied. The two made Baxter’s team tick in defence and going forward.
Tebogo Mokoena ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/hi8SpAHNcv— Thero Moloto Strauss (@Strauss4Dj) July 25, 2021
Mokoena, meanwhile, is so good that he could embody what both Maluleka and Letsholonyane were at their prime: Maluleka was brilliant on set-pieces and diagonal balls, while ‘Yeye’ could find pockets of spaces, and construct build-ups.
Signing Mokoena will also ensure that Chiefs creates space for Nkosingiphile Ngcobo who appears to be overlooked by Baxter this season, despite his fine form last season where he led the team to the final of the coveted Champions League.
Ngcobo is a creative player - like Mbule. However, the two are separated by small margins like their pressing game. Ngcobo is a bit slow, while Mbule has speed. And that's why they'd struggle to compliment each other in the engine room.