Lobtrans Gunners’ new acquisition from Tafic, Patrick “Carlos” Maletese believes his new team will certainly turn the corner this season. This is in spite of the fact that the team displayed a lackluster performance in the season’s opening game against Centre Chiefs, which they lost 1-2.
The highly talented libero told Sunday Standard Sport that he has no doubt that, with the togetherness he sees in the team at the moment, the Lobatse glamour club will be up there with the best, come the end of the season.
“We are a team which wants to make amends this season. We all try to play for each other on and off the pitch. We have youngsters in this team like ‘Mathousands’ (Finki Mothibi) and we listen when they advice us. In football you can’t afford to disregard advice because this is a collective game.
Our success though, will depend on whether we have a strong team ethic,” declared Maletese.
Despite Gunners losing the first game of the season against Chiefs, Maletese gave a five star performance alongside Mothibi in the team’s rearguard. He marshaled the back four well, reducing Chiefs new recruit to a redundant specimen.
“Morale in our camp is high. It cannot be dampened by the Chiefs defeat, even though it hurts to lose. Chiefs on their day could beat any team, so can we. Even though we lost, we showed the world that we have what it takes to compete with the best,” he added.
Maletese, who played for Selebi Phikwe-based lower division outfit, Real Movers, alongside BDF XI’s Mompati Thuma, before joining Nico United and, later, Tafic, appealed to the hard to please Gunners fans to be patient with the team’s new signings.
‘Our fans must also play a meaningful role to help the team achieve its goals. They can do this by supporting the team through thick and thin, like they have been doing. They must stop booing players who are having an off day. Every player will have a terrible game at some stage, even Ronaldhino,” said Maletese.
The tough tackling player also lauded his former Tafic teammate, Kago Dlodlo, for joining him at Gunners.
“Kago is a gifted youngster. He will require everyone’s support to settle in very quickly. He is one player who is blessed with that knack of poaching goals out of nothing. I was surprised Tafic allowed him to leave because he is such a rare talent,” he said.
Maletese, nicknamed “Carlos” after Real Madrid and Brazil’s hard shooting left back Roberto Carlos, came out in protection for the team ‘strikers.
“Strikers are faced with a very tough job and if they are put under pressure, they will certainly not deliver. Where I play at defence, I can afford to clear the ball up field under pressure but a striker cannot do that. They need to control the ball under difficult circumstances and confidence is key in this aspect of the game. If they get booed, they will not have the confidence that is required,” said Maletese.
It is quite common that strikers are often subjected to pressure that the sword is coming out of its sheath if they do not score; and if they do not score goals they are out of the team.
Many are of the feeling that the arrival of Maletese at Gunners will give one of the team’s most influential player, Tshepo “Talk Talk” Motlhabankwe, the liberty to venture forward and unleash his trade mark ferocious shots. Previously, Motlhabankwe has always been restricted lest he neglects his defensive duties.
But, said Maletese, “I have not come to replace Tshepo (Motlhabankwe) at the back. I was signed to add value to this great team. The reason I was signed is because the management believed I could add value. Remember I am also versatile like Tshepo.”
Gunners lost two influential players, Barry Hangunyu and Kenanao Kgetholetsile, in the off-season. The players have joined Township Rollers and BDF XI, respectively.
But Maletese argues, “Players will always come and go but Gunners is a big team with or without them. We, the players are duty bound to steer the team back to the glory days, but we will need everyones’support. I believe our collective bitter disappointment will spur us on. Enough is enough; Gunners need to return to the happy days. Our fans have starved and it’s enough,” he concluded.