May 03, 2022

The Big Interview – Manti Mekoa – Fomer Orlando Pirates, Free State and Chippa United midfielder Manti Mekoa chats to MTN FC…

Former Orlando Pirates, Free State Stars and Chippa United midfielder Manti Mekoa chats to MTN FC about his career, his plans for the future, and the best 11 players he played with …

MTNFC: Fans have been wondering where Manti Mekoa is this season …?
MM: Manti is busy with business in Johannesburg. It’s coming along slowly but, like a baby, it’s crawling into the right direction. Soon it will be out there in the public.

MTNFC: What’s the latest regarding your football career?
MM: To be honest, right now football is not really on my mind. I needed to come back to Johannesburg and push the business instead. I have been away since I left Orlando Pirates and no-one was available to look after it. I needed to come back and grow it. It’s not easy, but it’s slowly getting there.

MTNFC: Given all the promise you showed early in your career, do you think you’ve realised your true potential?
MM: Look, I enjoyed my career but unfortunately there were other circumstances that probably hampered my progress. There are other things that people never paid attention to. It was also unfortunate that most of the teams that I found myself playing for were fighting against relegation.

MTNFC: At which team did you most enjoy your football?
MM: I think in my second season at Free State Stars I played really well, but at Chippa United I played my best football. I didn’t go there with a point to prove, but I got the opportunity to showcase what I can do. At the end of the season they wanted to keep me, but Maritzburg United came with a better offer and I was attracted by their professionalism.

MTNFC: Who were some of the best coaches you worked with during your career?
MM: There are two. Steve Komphela in terms of motivation. He was more than a coach, he was a brother and he was father. And then Ernst Middendorp in terms of training, preparations and the football I liked to play. He was a top coach.

MTNFC: If you could pick a Dream XI of players you played with, who would it be?
MM: In goals it’s Senzo [Meyiwa] or Kennedy [Mweene], but in the end I will choose Senzo. For right-back I will go for Thabo Matlaba and Patrick Phungwayo on the left, with Robyn Johannes and Siyabonga Sangweni as centre-backs. AJ [Andile Jali] is the number 6 and I will play with double 8. There is this boy I played with at Richards Bay, Philani Cele. He was a top player but was unfortunately affected by injuries. I will play him with a player called [Petros] Shitembi. I think he was from Namibia and he also played for AmaZulu. On the left wing I will go for [Masibusane] Zongo, an extremely talented player. On the right I will go for Philani Shange and Clifford Mulenga as a striker. There are other good strikers that I played with, including Dumsani Maselela at Tuks. George Maluleka was also a good striker, there is also Phenyo Mongalo at Tuks, and Mahoota [Katlego Mashego]. There is also [Andile] Mbenyane and [Lehlogonolo] Matlou, who is now at Swallows. The other one is [Letsie] Koapeng – I haven’t seen any player that could finish like Katlego Mashego at training, but Koepeng was close.

MTNFC: You mentioned Zongo – another player who never fulfilled his potential …

MM: A very talented player but let down by attitude. You can’t rely on talent only, you also need the right attitude. Obviously some coaches want to work in a certain structure and you need to adapt. Poor choices in friends also let him down because bad company can affect your performance.

MTNFC: Most players face financial challenges after retiring from football. What are you doing to make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap?
MM: Proper planning when you are still playing is important. There are more opportunities when you are still playing. People love you and always want to associate with you, so you must make use of the opportunities when you are still relevant. see with myself.

MTNFC: What was the reason behind changing your surname from Moholo to Mekoa?
MM: All along I have been using my mother’s surname, you know the family thing. It’s a bit private … I don’t want to indulge too much on that.

MTNFC: You are regarded as one of the snappiest dressers amongst footballers in the country …
MM: My uncle had a style and good taste in clothing. It’s a culture in our family and I believe how you dress is how you present your people. I learnt a lot from my uncle. I stole ideas, but I also believe that fashion is something you are born with; it’s not just about buying all these expensive labels like Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

MTNFC: Finally, who do you think deserves to be named Footballer of the Season?
MM: AJ [Andile Jali] has done well this season, perhaps even better than when he was still at Orlando Pirates. His play has really matured and it’s very difficult to find a midfielder like him in the country at the moment who can defend and also create chances. Peter Shalulile has also done well. He has been consistent and is scoring goals, but I will still go for AJ.

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