And so it is that Erick Mathoho, the Amakhosi centreback, has beaten off the competition to take home the Phakaaathi Player of the Month Award for August.
To be fair to Phakaaathi’s other nominations, however, it was a close-run poll, with Mathoho only just edging out Mamelodi Sundowns’ Themba Zwane and SuperSport United’s Bradley Grobler, though Cape Town City striker Kermit Erasmus finished quite a way back.
In any case, Mathoho thoroughly deserves the award, after a tremendous August where he regained his status as one of South Africa’s top centrebacks.
“Tower” even won a place back in the Bafana Bafana squad, though his return to the senior national team was delayed as both Zambia and Madagascar withdrew from friendlies against South Africa on the back of the xenophobic attacks in the country last week.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has to be given credit for putting his faith in Mathoho at the start of a season in which few were predicting much success for a side that had finished ninth in the Absa Premiership last season, and had gone four straight seasons without a trophy.
Mathoho, however, made an immediate impact in Chiefs’ season-opener at Highlands Park, though it was at the attacking end that he came to the party, the 29-year-old netting the winner in Amakhosi’s 3-2 victory at the Makhulong Stadium. Mathoho’s effort did take a massive deflection but if you don’t shoot …. and Mathoho was at it again six days later, as Chiefs won 1-0 at home to Black Leopards, netting the winner and helping his side keep a clean sheet as they won 1-0 at home to Black Leopards.
Mathoho had to go off after 83 minutes of Chiefs’ 1-1 draw with SuperSport, and with his injury record in recent seasons it is always a concern when “Tower” leaves the field of play, but he was back for Chiefs’ next game, a 2-1 win at Cape Town City that ensured the side went into the international break at the top of the table.
There is talk Mathoho is playing for a new contract at Chiefs, too, which can only give him added motivation to keep his form going as the season progresses. In other words, this is Mathoho’s first Phakaaathi Player of the Month Award for the season, but it may well not be his last.