Cape Town - Following a successful season in Kaizer Chiefs’ midfield, Mandla Masango admits that watching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has inspired him.
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Last season, Masango only started in one league game and came on three times as a sub, never scoring a goal. Although the 25-year-old did score once in a Nedbank Cup and a CAF Champions League clash.
The 2014/2015 season, however, was different.
He started in 19 league fixtures, making a further nine appearances as a substitute and scored seven goals. Masango added two more in the first round match of the MTN8 against Mpumalanga Black Aces.
For his efforts the midfielder received the awards for Chiefs’ Most Improved Player of the Season, Top Goal Scorer of the Season and Player of the Month (August).
He was also nominated for the Goal of the Season, although the award eventually went to Reneilwe Letsholonyane for his brilliant finish from long range against Platinum Stars.
“I got inspired by watching the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, Robben and Ribery,” Masango told the Kaizer Chiefs' website.
“They are all wingers, who score goals.”
Masango’s change of fortune already began during Chiefs’ pre-season camp in Port Elizabeth.
“We played a friendly,” recalls Masango.
“Katlego Mphela got injured and I replaced him. I netted once and created another via an assist.
“That’s when it all started to click.
“I am grateful that the hard work put in finally bore fruit.
“I never gave up, despite not getting much game time. I put in extra work at training, often staying behind to focus on, for example, finishing, crossing and endurance.”