Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Lebese concedes losing an influential defender like Tefu Mashamaite played part in their below-par campaign.
Amakhosi surrendered the Absa Premiership title to Mamelodi Sundowns after a season that saw them finish fifth in the league standings, having scored 38 goals and conceding a 30.
Mashamaite, who joined Swedish side Bollklubben Hacken in 2015, formed a successful partnership with Eric Mathoho in the heart of Chiefs' defence last season. The duo went on to help the club clinch their second double in three seasons under coach Stuart Baxter and his absence was clearly a factor this term.
"He [Mashamaite] is obviously a quality player and we missed him," Lebese told The Sowetan. "We won trophies when he was here and we kept a lot of clean sheets because he is a good defender and he is a leader."
The Glamour Boys recently confirmed midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane's will join SuperSport United next month and Lebese insisted it won't be easy to see the 34-year-old playing for a different team.
"It's going to be difficult [without Letsholonyane]. We joined the team at the same time and he was part of the family for a long time. He is like a brother, so seeing him in different colours will be weird," he concluded.