Khenyeza key for Aces

Mabhuti Khenyeza’s reputation inside and outside Mpumalanga Black Aces varies, but on the pitch there is no doubting his efficiency, which coach Clive Barker is banking on tonight when they host Orlando Pirates.

The Howick-born striker has a reputation of being a bad boy from his stints with Ajax Cape Town, Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows, including spitting at an assistant referee while still at the Urban Warriors.

But he has consistently found the back of the net for whichever team he has represented, reaching the 100-mark with his strike against Bloemfontein Celtic in the club’s last game last month. He is only the fourth player to do so after Daniel Mudau, Tico-Tico Bucuane and Siyabonga Nomvethe.

“Khenyeza is a wonderful player,” Barker said. “It’s great to have him around and I am sure reaching that milestone will spur him on to find more goals. He is a dedicated individual, humble and a role model in the team with his work ethic.”

They will need those qualities tonight from Khenyeza, pictured, when Aces face Pirates at Mbombela Stadium in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout.

The match was supposed to have been played last week but was postponed to give Pirates time to prepare for their Caf Champions League clash with Esperance of Tunisia.

“They have raised the country’s flag high with their run in Africa,” Barker said.

“Hopefully their campaign doesn’t end in the semifinals. But in this cup, we want to advance and there is a good atmosphere in the team which makes us believe in ourselves.

“Pirates have struggled against small teams, while looking good against the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Al-Ahly and Zamalek. We will look to capitalise on that. We can’t be complacent.”

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