Mandla Masango is one of the brightest talents in the current setup. He was a key player for Amajita (South Africa national U-20) during the World Cup in Egypt last year and has seen more action under the tutelage of Coach, Vladimir Vermezovic. He took time to answer questions from the supporters on how he has managed to keep his feet firm on the ground.
What do you do to avoid bad friends and how do you make sure that you save money to avoid what has happened to some of the players?
Mandla Masango: I am lucky to have a very firm background and I have kept my head down and my feet firmly on the ground despite playing for one of the biggest clubs in the country. I do not let peer pressure get to me. I am always with my brothers and my friends, who are studying. I mostly hang out with people who have direction in life and that keeps me on my toes.
It is important as footballers to save money and I am doing exactly that.
How does it feel to play for the biggest team in South Africa and what plans do you have as a team next season?
Mandla Masango: It is a great honour to play for a team of Kaizer Chiefs’ magnitude. We want to do well, especially in the league next season. We would also like to play in the Champions League this season -- a goal we are currently pursuing.
Mandla, give us a brief explanation about yourself, where do you come from and what makes you tick. What are your interests outside football?
Mandla Masango: Mandla Masango is a young man from the dusty streets of Mpumalanga. I am humble and respectful. I enjoy being around people who have achieved in life. I enjoy staying at home.
What do you think went wrong for this season that led us to not make it to the top of the Absa Premiership?
Mandla Masango: We lost points at the crucial stage of the season and also we did not start well. There has been major improvement though, on last season’s performance. I am sure that will be seen when we play cups and of course next season.
What are you currently driving and are you studying?
Mandla Masango: I drive a Peugeot 206 and BMW 1 Series. I have recently registered with Rosebank College to do Business Management.
How do you feel having represented your country in last year’s Under-20 World Cup and do you have any ambitions of representing in the senior national team?
Mandla Masango: It is an honour to play for your country because you know that you are carrying the hopes of millions of South Africans. I am grateful to have had an opportunity to play in the World Cup, as we were only the second group since 1992 to achieve that feat. I am now working hard to realise my dream to don the Bafana Bafana jersey.
You have the great speed and skills needed in this game but you do not use them properly…
Mandla Masango: Sometimes as a player it is important that you think and running is not always a solution. I sometimes have to rely on my creativity to keep up with the tempo of the game. I do think that I am currently using my speed and skills effectively but there is always room for improvement. I am always working extra to be a better player and I will continue to do this to improve all aspects of my game.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player? Why have you not featured regularly as a player this season?
Mandla Masango: My strength is my speed, taking on players, creating chances for my teammates and getting into good goal scoring positions. I do not like to talk about my weaknesses as that might work against me (laughing) but I do work on them regularly at training.
On your second question, you will remember that I was playing regularly. This was before I went to Egypt with the Under-20 team for the World Cup. On my return I struggled with an injury and also found my teammates playing well, so it was difficult to break into the team. I am working my way back now.
Where do you stay, are you married, do you have a baby, what are you hobbies off the pitch and who are your favourite players at Chiefs and outside of Chiefs?
Mandla Masango: I stay in Fourways. I am still young and I am not married nor have a baby. I like all the players at Chiefs, especially players like Arthur Zwane who have achieved a lot with the Club. I do look up to all the guys. Outside Chiefs, I am a big fan of Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi and Robinho. I am a Barca fan and I cannot wait for the EL Classico.
(Mandla has taken a bet with kaizerchiefs.com, a Real Madrid fan)
Mandla ntwana , who is the best local player in your opinion?
Mandla Masango: Elias Pelembe of Mamelodi Sundowns without a doubt.
Mandla, are you guys scared of Sundowns, do they intimidate you with their money. Each and every game versus them in the last two years we just see you not playing to lose the game but not to win either. Brian Baloyi intimidates our team and you always fall for his tricks.
Mandla Masango: (Jumping) No, we are not scared of them and they do not intimidate us. It is never about money at Chiefs but passion and commitment to win. We play to win at all costs regardless of the opposition. I always try to score against any goalkeepers. Brian (Baloyi) was lucky in the MTN8 final in 2008 when I pushed the ball wide -- he was beaten but his ancestors saved him (laughing).
Are you not afraid of the much-anticipated mouthwatering clash against Orlando Pirates? How often do you go to Mpumalanga and are you still looking up to Walter Mokoena who introduced you to the elite league?
Kutullo Len Mogaila
Mandla Masango: We are motivated rather than afraid! We are positive going to this game and looking at the guys at training this week, everyone is hungry and we should beat them on Saturday. We respect them as opponents as they have good players, but on the pitch we want to win and it will not be different at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
I go to Mpumalanga every time I get time or during off-season. Walter has always been there for me and I will always be with him. I am grateful for the support he has given me from day one. Having said that people should not expect me to be like him as we are both different people.
What will you do after your last Absa Premiership fixture against Free State Stars on March 6?
Mandla Masango: We have no rest, as we must prepare for Telkom Cup and the Nedbank Cup. I will only go home after the end of the season.
How often do you practise shooting, because according to me you are an attacking midfielder but you are not scoring enough?
Mandla Masango: I practise shooting as often as I can. It will not be long before I start hitting the back of the net on a regular basis.
If you could invite five famous people over for a dinner, who would they be? What do you do in your spare time and what is your favourite song?
Mandla Masango: I would definitely invite Tata Nelson Mandela, because we share a birthday. Messi would be there, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama and Roger Federer. I do not have a particular favourite song but I do listen to the likes of Pro Kid, Teargas and Alicia Keys.
Kaizerchiefs.com, together with Mandla “Bullet” Masango, thank all the fans who took time to send through questions. Next on the line is Josta Dladla. Send your questions before Wednesday, February 24.