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Kaizer Chiefs career hanging on a thread for Mathoho

13:25 GMT+3 20/03/2022
Erick Mathoho Kaizer Chiefs
The long-serving centre-back was taken off at half-time against Golden Arrows after gifting them the opening goal, which turned out to be the winner

It’s been some time since Kaizer Chiefs defender Erick Mathoho has been in consistently good for the Soweto giants.

In July this year, Matotho will have reached a decade of service for Amakhosi and he has proven a superb addition to the club. Once the first choice for Bafana Bafana, Mathoho has enjoyed a decorated career which includes 34 caps for the national team, and 258 games and 26 goals for Chiefs, where he has won two league titles, the Nedbank Cup, the MTN8, and played in a Champions League final.

A couple of weeks back he popped up late in the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates to head home an 81st minute winner.

That was, however, a rare moment for the big man to celebrate as he has battled over the past year or two to play with the authority and composure of seasons gone by.

The under-hit back-pass which allowed Knox Mutizwa to win the match for Arrows on Saturday was not the first time in recent times he’s been found wanting when playing back to the goalkeeper. Even in the derby, Mathoho had been struggling against the pacey Pirates attackers, a more familiar scenario for him as he’s moved into his 30’s.

With his confidence gone and his previous asset – his size - now more of a hindrance than a help at times, Mathoho is among several Chiefs players whom the club’s fans feel has had their best days.

At 32-years-old though, one would expect that Mathoho could perhaps have another three or four years in his legs.

In terms of whether that will be at Chiefs, he’s not doing himself any favours with his erratic performances.

The former Bloemfontein Celtic defender does, however, have another full year on his contract, which runs until July 2023.

Despite Amakhosi having invested heavily in centre-backs, Mathoho has retained head coach Stuart Baxter’s backing this season and has been the first-choice throughout.

After his blunder against Arrows and getting subbed at half-time, that trust might have been broken and if the likes of Njabulo Ngcobo, Austin Dube and Siyabonga Ngezana take their chances, Mathoho might struggle to get back in the side for the last few months of the season.

That could then leave both the player and the club with a difficult decision to make as to whether he sees out his contract until 2023, or if Chiefs cash in while they can and look to sell the former Bafana defender.