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Zitha Kwinika’s promise to Kaizer Chiefs fans

Zitha Kwinika in preseason training at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.
Zitha Kwinika in preseason training at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.
Image: Kaizer Chiefs FC

Zitha Kwinika has promised Kaizer Chiefs supporters that within a team framework his personal commitment is to always try to make the challenge when it is needed.

The Chiefs youth product, who left the club in 2016 having not kicked a ball for the first team, has gone full circle in his career.

Kwinika departed as Zitha Macheke — he changed to his clan surname in 2021 — from a Chiefs who had wrapped up a second league and cup double in three years in 2014-15, where he was a non-playing squad member surrounded by quality stars.

He returns as Kwinika — having grown to the point of becoming a defensive rock in a Stellenbosch FC, who ended fourth in the DStv Premiership in 2021-22 — to an Amakhosi who have not won a trophy since that double eight seasons ago.

Chiefs’ clear out of big name, ageing players under young coach Arthur Zwane and youthful signings have resulted in a feel-good factor the club hopes will yield trophies.

At 28, and after his big campaign for Stellies, expectations are high for Kwinika to shore up a problematic central defence.

“It’s part of our job — expectations, performances are the things we signed up for and I think you learn to embrace that,” he said.

“There’s one thing about football — it’s not me. I can never do it alone and it’s a collective. But I need to play my part. I need to tackle when I need to tackle.

“That’s one thing I can promise from my end — I’ll try by all means to do what I need to do.

“But we understand that if every individual puts that percentage then as a team we can achieve whatever we need to achieve.”

Kwinika’s circuitous route to the first team football that waits at Chiefs in 2022-23 took him to Chippa United, Thanda Royal Zulu and Stellies, maturing each season into last season’s impressive product.

He may not have played last time he was in Chiefs’ senior side, but rubbing shoulders with players of the class of Bernard Parker, Siyabonga Nkosi, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Tsepo Masilela, Tefu Mashamaite and Itumeleng Khune was a good springboard.

“It’s one of those things when you grow up in an environment, being a development player, we all want to see ourselves going on to play for the first team,” the mild-mannered defender said, accompanied by a smile that comes easily to him.

“I was fortunate to taste it [Chiefs’ first team squad] even though I didn’t play. I think being the person I am I understood.

“I was once surrounded by your best quality players you could get in SA football. That on its own rubbed off on me. Going to different environments after that also played a part.”

Chiefs get the first test of their new-look combination in their Premiership opener against Royal AM at Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm).


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