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Under-siege Maboe gets a lift-up from Nkhatha

Lebogang Maboe of Mamelodi Sundowns, seen here avoiding a challenge from Bidvest Wits's pair of Buhle Mkhwanazi and S'fiso Hlanti, is having a hard time from hecklers among his team's supporters. / Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu
Lebogang Maboe of Mamelodi Sundowns, seen here avoiding a challenge from Bidvest Wits's pair of Buhle Mkhwanazi and S'fiso Hlanti, is having a hard time from hecklers among his team's supporters. / Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu

With Mamelodi Sundowns' Lebohang Maboe finding himself at the receiving end of vile criticism from some of the team's fans, striker Kingston Nkhatha, who once experienced the wrath of the boo-boys, has advised the Brazilians forward to remain strong and disregard negativity.

A section of Masandawana faithful has been on Maboe's case this season, with the versatile attacker struggling in front of goals. Maboe attracted more derision from certain Downs fans when he missed a sitter in their CAF Champions League second leg quarterfinal at home to Al Ahly last month.

Last season, his maiden at the club after joining from Maritzburg United, Maboe netted a decent eight goals from 27 league outings. Showing signs of regression, the 25-year-old has scored just one from 17 Absa Premiership games this campaign.

Having endured more or less the same disapproval from some Kaizer Chiefs fans during his spell at the club between 2012 and 2015, Nkhatha has given counsel to Maboe.

"For Lebo, he needs to be strong. Such things mustn't break him. He must always know that he is there to play... to enjoy himself," 34-year-old Nkhatha told Sowetan from his home in Zimbabwe.

The centre-forward, currently on the books of GladAfrica Championship outfit Mbombela United, also urged the coaches at Downs to give Maboe a shoulder to cry on.

"The coaches need to show more support, that will help his confidence. He must always remember how he joined Sundowns... it was because of his brilliance at Maritzburg, so he must get motivation from that as well," said Nkhatha.

He revealed the fan abuse nearly triggered him to quit Amakhosi, crediting his then mentor Stuart Baxter for
always supporting him.

"It was difficult at first, but with the help of the players and the technical team, especially coach Stuart, I healed.

"He [Baxter] would always talk to me to check up if I was okay, but it was a difficult period that you end up not wanting to play football again, but having personal goals and wanting to help the team achieve more saw me block all the negativity at the end of it all."

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