Newly acquired Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Oupa Manyisa has come to the African champions like a stompie picked up on the side of the road, with the hope that there’s more than one puff left in him.
The circumstances under which ‘Ace’ moved to Chloorkop might have been befuddling to diski lovers – with the dubious trade-off seeing assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena going to Orlando Pirates – but the fact remains Manyisa is joining a team with sky high expectations.
In Sundowns’ last outing, the shock 2-1 defeat to Polokwane City at Loftus about a week ago, Manyisa was a passenger. He may as well have been riding the Gautrain all evening long as midfield through-balls from chief instigator Jabu Maluleke found chief tormentor Rodney Ramagalela all night long.
At Pirates, we knew Manyisa to be the stopper of opposition attacks and quite often the match that lights the counter-attack … most times in less than a split second.
He was also the guy who would galvanise the team to play for 100+ minutes and would be the first to maraud into the box in search of an equaliser or a winner if he saw that his front men weren’t doing the job.
At his best – in concert with Andile Jali – he made the space on the field shrink and expand at his will: shrink when Bucs were defending and expand when they were on the attack.
A European move wasn’t such a diabolical suggestion either. When Jali scored his in 2014, to Belgium, Manyisa seemed destined to follow. But it didn’t and will, in all probability, not happen. That train has left the station.
Manyisa must now focus on being a mainstay of a Brazilians team that’s already teeming with midfield talent in the likes of Tiyani Mabunda, Hlompho Kekana and Lucky Mohomi.
Whatever the arrangement that led to Manyisa going north, there’s a feeling among Sundowns fans that Manyisa is a dried up cigarette bud with probably one last drag left.
He left Pirates in tatters. It was an odd sight, seeing the Pirates midfield being run ragged weekly. It must have been so for him too, especially when, in the back of his mind, he knew full well how mighty the Bucs could be when everybody is giving their best.
The sight, for me, that raised flags of a potentially rapid Manyisa decline came during the midweek game against Polokwane City. Manyisa picked up the ball 30-metres out from the opposition goal with inviting space in front of him. Yellow-clad fans egged him on to shoot but he resisted. In fact, he didn’t give it a second thought.
Many have seen him murder goalkeepers from that distance. Sure, Tuesday night’s position wasn’t favourable – it was towards his weaker left foot. But, with a valuable three home points on the line, Manyisa never again put himself in a position to pull off a rescue mission, like he’s done so many times in the past.
This is not to pick on Manyisa. Ace, if anything, has earned the benefit of the doubt. But the doubts remain and only he can silence them. And he’s not the only stompie lying around that’s been picked up by Premier Soccer League teams this transfer window in the hope of finding one last puff.
Steven Pienaar, at Bidvest Wits, is more like a cigar bud and so is Teko Modise at Cape Town City. Siyanda Xulu, who has age in his favour, also has a lot to prove at Maritzburg United, after being released from captivity at Naturena.