Andile Mbenyane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/MICHAEL SHEEHAN
Andile Mbenyane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/MICHAEL SHEEHAN

Port Elizabeth — A hamstring injury could force Chippa United’s long-serving striker Andile Mbenyane to miss his team’s crucial Premiership fixture against  Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (3pm).

The striker sustained the injury during Chippa’s 2-0 defeat to Cape Town City in April‚ which resulted in him missing the game against Polokwane City a few days ago.

Mbenyane has been a regular and one of the most influential players in the Chilli Boys’ squad this season.

In his 27 appearances for the Port Elizabeth-based side‚ he has scored six goals plus three assists.

Coach Clinton Larsen needs the input of experienced players such as  Mbenyane to help them beat Chiefs in their final match of the season.

The 31-year-old is heartbroken that‚ when needed most‚ he will not be available due to injury.

“I have not been training since my injury‚ so I am not too sure if I will make it to Saturday’s game‚” Mbenyane said. “When I missed the win over Polokwane my heart was very sore because I knew the team needed me.”

Said Larsen: “We have a good team‚ so even if Andile or Thabo Rakhale do not play there are players that are capable of getting the job done.

“Most people maybe thought the team would not win against Polokwane because [Thabo] Rakhale and Andile were not in the squad‚ but the players  proved them wrong.”

“The coach has helped us a lot as the team on how to approach such games even when key players are not available,” said Mbenyane. “I really want to play against Chiefs. I know the team needs me‚ but this is football.”

The win against Polokwane saw the Chilli Boys move from 15th to 13th position on the log. However‚ they are not out of the woods.

They are level on 27 points with 14th-placed Free State Stars and Black Leopards who are second from the bottom.

Saturday’s game will decide Chippa’s future in the top-flight.

If they survive Mbenyane believes that some changes are needed before next season.

“Sometimes you might not even know why you are in this position‚” he said. “However‚ I think the changing of coaches and players might be a contributor. I think we must start getting players now‚ and not wait for teams to give us their rejects.

“Maybe some of them [players] are not as passionate as we are about the team‚ because they know when the season ends they will go back to their clubs.

“I think we must sign players that really want to be part of the team. We must also promote some younger players from our development structures.

“We have a good coach‚ someone who will change a lot of things at the club come next season. He just needs support from us as the players.”