AmaZulu looking to life beyond veteran Siyabonga Nomvethe
Cavin Johnson admits that it is time to blood new strikers at AmaZulu having opted to rest veteran forward Siyabonga Nomvethe.
Nomvethe‚ who turns 40 on Saturday‚ has not featured for the side in a month since the 3-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout first round.
Johnson says it is about bringing through fresh legs to take over from the former Bafana Bafana striker‚ though he believes he still does have a mentoring role to play at the club.
“It is about looking after him‚ but he is also old in the teeth and it is time that the younger guys took over‚” Johnson said.
“It is nothing to do with football‚ it has got to do with the human body and the human mind‚ and where he is at the moment in his life‚ and we are trying to manage that as best we can.
“He still has a role to play among the younger players within the team because a lot of them are not as old as we think they are.
"If I took Bhele [Nomvethe] and Mabhuti [Khenyeza] out of the team then my average age is 20.”
That last point is an exaggeration‚ with 29-year-old Rhulani Manzini and 30-year-old Mhlengi Cele the two starting strikers in the 2-2 draw with Ajax Cape Town on Saturday‚ but Johnson’s point is made.
It is likely then that we are seeing the end of an illustrious top-flight career for Nomvethe‚ who has a single goal this campaign‚ netted in the surprise 2-1 away win over Mamelodi Sundowns last month.
Johnson continues to use 35-year-old Khenyeza as an impact player off the bench and that drew reward on Saturday with his late equaliser against Ajax.
Nomvethe made his debut in the Premier Soccer League for African Wanderers in July 1997‚ ironically in a 4-0 Rothmans Cup loss to AmaZulu.
Within two weeks he had netted his first goal in a 3-3 draw with Kaizer Chiefs.
It means he is the longest-serving player currently registered in the PSL‚ with BidVest Wits goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs making his top-flight bow against Nomvethe and Wanderers in September 1997.
Nomvethe would go on to score 48 goals in 82 starts for Chiefs before heading abroad for spells with Udinese‚ Salernitana and Empoli in Italy‚ Djurgaden in Sweden and Aalborg in Denmark.
He then returned to the PSL with Moroka Swallows‚ winning the Golden Boot in the 2011/12 season with 20 league goals as the club narrowly missed out on the league title on the final day of the campaign.
He signed for AmaZulu in the 2015/16 and campaigned for them in the National First Division before the club bought their way back into the top-flight at the end of last season.