Chippa United's Zitha Macheke living his dream
Player feels fortunate to have made it into professional league at just 20
Chippa United’s Zitha Macheke, who celebrated his 25th birthday earlier in January, has reflected on his career so far and the Absa Premiership season at hand.
The right back burst onto the professional football scene aged 20 after he was promoted to Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs’ first team from the development team in 2014.
A year later Macheke joined Port Elizabeth side Chippa on a loan deal, but his creativity on the field saw him gain a permanent stay at the Chilli Boys camp at the end of the loan.
In 2016 the player was loaned out to National First Division side Thanda Royal Zulu and there he was one of the key players who helped Thanda win the NFD title.
At the start of the season the Johannesburg-born player returned to Chippa United, where he has been a regular player this season.
“I never imagined I would be here [in the PSL] at this point in my life, because I never set a timeframe for myself,” Macheke said.
“I would say I am one of the fortunate people to be part of the league – because some people broke into the professional level at 27 years old and I started very young.
“At 20 I was already in the professional set-up, playing for Kaizer Chiefs.
“This is where I am supposed to be and things were meant to happen this way.
“Now I have played more than 50 games in the PSL, which I feel is an achievement at this stage.
“It obviously comes back to the hard work – but also you must not be naive but be humble, and say, ‘I am one of the lucky ones to have gone this far because some did not even reach this point’,” he said.
The player has also had the opportunity to wear the green and gold national team colours. He was part of the SA U23 team that took part in the Africa Cup in 2015.
Macheke said for him to get back into the set-up and play for Bafana would take double the work he is doing at the moment. However, he said this would have to start with Chippa producing good results in the league.
“My target now is to make sure that I do well in my team so that the team can do well.
“The team’s good performance will bring a lot of attention and also attract relevant people.
“I cannot say I want to play for Bafana Bafana while my team is not doing well. So now I am focusing on the progress of Chippa United and then the rest will follow.”
Things have not gone too well for the Chilli Boys this season.
They are in the midst of a relegation battle, lying second from bottom on the log with 12 points from 17 games.
“Personally this has not been one of the greatest seasons. I have never been in this position before as a footballer ,” Macheke said.
“We are 15th on the log, but this is part of learning and the season is not over yet. We still have 13 more games to go.
“We are under pressure because we have a lot to play for, but we just have to move out of this stage we are in now.
“But we will turn things around.”..