Bafana hero Lepasa urged to bide his time at club level

Three goals in four internationals make striker key for Broos

Sihle Ndebele Journalist

While he’s been struggling at club level for the better part of his career, Zakhele Lepasa is gradually establishing himself as a beast whenever he puts on the Bafana Bafana shirt.

The SuperSport United forward was the Bafana hero for a second game running at the weekend, netting what proved to be a winner in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Morocco. He had similarly scored in the away win over Liberia in March, booking SA a place at next year’s continental finals in Ivory Coast.

At club level, however, he has proven a misfit, leading to Orlando Pirates loaning him out for the second time, after they had first sent him to TS Galaxy, where he worked with Dan “Dance” Malesela.

Lepasa was arguably at his best under Malesela, and the coach has weighed in on the striker’s continued struggle to establish himself in the Premiership, urging him to fine-tune his game to fit in coaches’ style. Malesela advocates for Lepasa to return to his parent club Pirates, having spent the second half of the 2022/23 season on loan at SuperSport.

“A player like him needs to just adjust to different styles played at club level. You don’t want him to do too much, feed him the ball and he’ll score for you. He’s that kind of player who needs people around him to understand him,” Malesela told Sowetan yesterday.

“If he can push himself hard and smart enough he will play many games irrespective of the club. I am not a big fan of loans you for me he must go back to Pirates and fight harder. He must go there and compete. There are chances for him to grow there because Pirates are not as rich as they should be with strikers.”

Lepasa, 26, played a pivotal role when Malesela’s second-tier Galaxy won the Nedbank Cup in 2019, scoring five goals in the competition, including the winner in the final against Kaizer Chiefs.

Dance also pointed out where Lepasa should improve. “The weakness in his game is that thing of running with the ball. He needs to learn to share the ball and the responsibility with teammates. There’s no such thing as a player only tailored for the national’s like saying this one is only good as a sub, no. Football is the same and players must adapt.”

Lepasa was instrumental again for Bafana when they beat the semifinalists of the previous World Cup, Morocco, 2-1 in the Afcon qualifier at FNB Stadium at the weekend, where he netted the second goal that eventually sank the first-ranked African side.

Since making his Bafana debut in the 4-0 victory over Sierra Leone in a friendly last September, where he notched up two assists, Lepasa has scored three goals from four games that followed.

Lepasa’s record at club level in the Premiership

Pirates: 5 goals and 2 assists from 41 games

SuperSport: 2 goals in 10 games

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