On Saturday 26 October I tweeted, “How did Nkatha end up in the PSL let alone Chiefs?” The tweet obviously followed the disappointment of the player after a few unacceptable mistakes; errors that any player playing for a top flight club shouldn’t make.
In Europe, one of the big problems football faces is racism. FIFA is trying by all means to fight the scourge. In South Africa the booing of players in stadiums by their own fans has become a huge problem.
Two Absa Premiership encounters this past weekend saw two Zimbabwe internationals being booed for performances that didn’t live up to their respective clubs’ expectations. Kaizer Chiefs striker Kingston Nkhatha and Amazulu goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini were booed for the better parts of the games their teams played against Orlando Pirates and Maritzburg United respectively.
For Nkhatha, one would expect that his controversial goal would make the boo boys go easy on him but it was his retaliating celebration that made it even worse as it showed a little bit of arrogance from the Zimbabwean international. On the other hand, Kapini has had a terrible season so far; conceding seven against Mamelodi Sundowns and the mistake in the last minute against BIDVest Wits. Save for the Maritzburg game, there isn’t much that the keeper could have done to prevent the two goals.
That said, one can wonder if all fans just hate these players or expect a little more from them. Both Kapini and Nkatha are players that have proved themselves over and over again. But the likes of Lehlohonolo Majoro and Aubrey Mathibe still come out as first choices. For Amazulu, Mathibe did exceptionally well in their first match against Pirates and was voted man of the match, but still went to the bench two games later against Ajax Cape Town and has been warming the bench ever since.
Without trying to justify the actions of the fans, there isn’t much that the league or teams can do to stop fans from booing under-performing players. What needs to be done is the players in question need to start performing or their coaches need to be brave enough to bench them.
Like most players who have been booed, both Kapini and Nkhatha have talent and their journeys to the two clubs prove that they can be hard workers. What they need to do is to avoid all the negativity coming with their drop in form and continue working hard.
Booing has been a very unfortunate part of the game for a long time now and players such as Teko Modise, Katlego Mphela, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Collins Mbesuma, Luis Suarez, Robin Van Persie and many others have all been booed for different reasons and they are still playing which proves right the cliché ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’.