After years of playing in the National First Division and struggling with promotional play-offs trying to get back to South Africa’s top flight, Black Leopards finally made it to the top flight in July 2018. Since then, signing some of the best players from the second tier was inevitable. Lesedi Kapinga, who was TTM’s Player of the Year – was one of the players to be snatched by Lidoda Duvha. The forward has adapted very quickly in the Absa Premiership which saw him earn his place in the first team, and, he’s also become a fan favourite in Limpopo. We caught up with the rising star who tells us what are his plans for the future and also shares how he felt when his former coach, Joel Masutha, left the club.
Banele Pikwa: Lesedi, thanks for taking time to chat. This is your first season playing in the top flight and you are already a regular. Tell me about your season so far.
Lesedi Kapinga: The season has been great so far, I can’t complain about it. Football is a bit difficult, but to be honest, a lot hasn’t changed. I’m still improving on my game in terms of gaining experience and learning different things every day.
BP: How was it like losing a coach that gave you your professional debut?
LK: It was a bad thing because we were starting to find our feet and the only thing we were doing wrong was not scoring goals. You know changes are changes, even though it’s not good for us, we have to deal with it. Our job is to play. We can’t talk about the changing of coaches and all that, because, at the end of the day, it’s part of the job that we are doing.
BP: Black Leopards played some good football under Masutha but the goals were not coming and it led to him leaving the club. As a forward, do you ever blame yourself for that?
LK: Yes, I can say that I blame myself a lot because we did a lot of finishing at training, but during the games, we didn’t capitalize on those situations. Whenever we got a chance of scoring, we rushed things, we don’t take time, the composure is just not there and I think we have to slow things down when we are in the last third and be a lot more patient. We have to work on our composure in the last third. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also part of it because we can’t only blame strikers for not scoring. I should also take some of the blame because I’m an attacking player. We should all take the blame.
BP: We saw at the beginning of the season, Orlando Pirates announced a ‘finishing coach’. Do you think it’s something all the teams should consider having?
LK: Yes, I can say it’s something that every team needs because when you look at how [Orlando] Pirates play when they get to the last third, they make sure they take most of their chances. And all this improvement came after they introduced the scoring coach. So I think it’s a good thing to have, it’s working for Pirates and maybe it might work for us as well. I think every team needs one [a striker coach] and it can help us a lot.
BP: The team has played one game under the new coach Dylan Kerr. How is he compared to Joel Masutha?
LK: The style of play is a bit similar but we will have to adjust and know what the coach wants and he must get to know us as well. We have to understand each other, it will make things better in terms of understanding his philosophy and the way that he wants us to move. It’s important that we get his philosophy right.
BP: Against Kaizer Chiefs, you won the Man of the Match award despite your team losing. Which one do you prefer? To perform well and the team loses or the team wins but you don’t perform well?
LK: In each and every game that we play, both teams want to win. So, I wouldn’t say I’m proud of getting Man of the Match award whilst being on the losing side. I can’t say it’s something that is good for me or the team. But, at the end of the day, you can’t change everything. Some things are just beyond our control and there is nothing we can do about it. I wanted to win the game and I also wanted to be Man of the Match. But, to win games is the most important. I have to work hard so that I can help the team win matches and then look at those individual awards later. I can’t be proud of those type of awards if the team is not winning. So, for me, it’s not a good thing. We have to win matches and help the team.
BP: Talking about individual awards, last season, you were the Player of the Year at Tshakuma and you’ve justified it this season. How difficult is it to play in the PSL in comparison to NFD?
LK: The difference is that the PSL is the highest level, so you have to think and react quickly in a short space of time. In the NFD, you have too much time on the ball and it doesn’t demand the quick thinking. There’s a lot of running in the NFD, whereas in the PSL, the decision making is more important than just running with the ball. The PSL demands quick thinking, you have to know when to pass and when to dribble – it’s very important.
BP: Lesedi, you are a fan favourite and the fans want you in a big team. Has there been any big teams that have contacted you?
LK: No! No! No! A big no.
BP: Would that be something you look forward too though?
LK: For now I will just concentrate on my work and protect my work [position in the team] by making sure I work hard every day and improving in each and every game that I play. That’s the only thing I’ll be focusing on right now.
BP: Lastly, what is your personal goal for the rest of the season and then long term for the rest of your career as well?
LK: For now, we are in a very bad position on the log. I believe we all want to work together as the team to save the club [Black Leopards] from relegation. That’s our main priority right now and the rest will follow. Saving the team from relegation is what I will be focusing on at the moment.
BP: Thanks for your time, Lesedi, and all the best with fighting relegation.
LK: You’re welcome, thanks a lot.
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