For Mduduzi Shabalala, it does not matter that he shared the Kaizer Chiefs changeroom with veterans like Itumeleng Khune and Sifiso Hlanti.
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To him, they are equals who are there to do the same job which is to help Chiefs win games.
“It’s all about the mentality. It helps you to fight in the game,” said Shabalala during the Soweto derby media day this week.
“It always helps to think that you are good enough so that you don’t look down on yourself,” added the 19-year-old.
Shabalala made examples of young players who are doing well in leagues across the world.
“You can see what is happening in football. There are young players who are playing in the best leagues, including Barcelona’s Pedri.
“Kylian Mbappe has played in two Fifa World Cup finals, and won one, at the age of 24. So, you’ll be a small boy until when?
“You always have to give your best and ensure that you fight for your position in each and every game.”
Shabalala’s confidence and go-getter mentality is what Chiefs will need at FNB Stadium on Saturday when they meet traditional rivals Orlando Pirates.
“We need to get all three points. So, it is not going to be an easy game. I expect to make mistakes since it’s my first derby but I have to fight hard and dig deeper,” Shabalala said.
Jumping the Bucs ship
The lad from Senoane in Soweto, also revealed that he grew up a Pirates supporter like most members of his family.
“It’s true. I grew up supporting Pirates. But since joining Chiefs, I’ve changed to become a Chiefs supporter and I’ll die a Chiefs fan,” Shabalala stated.
“I’ve influenced my mother, sisters, and young brother to support Chiefs. But my father is still refusing to jump ship. Even now, he’s saying that he’s going to beat me.”
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Shabalala will be high on confidence having scored in Chiefs’s last game against Golden Aroows although they ended up losing it.
The loss has put a lot of pressure on coach Arthur Zwane who had to be escorted out of the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Limpopo with fans baying for his blood.