George Lebese in action for Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder, George Lebese, has been ignoring calls from his friends at Kaizer Chiefs ahead of their big Absa Premiership clash at Loftus on Tuesday.

The lad from Mamelodi practically grew up at Chiefs. He made his professional debut as a 19-year-old in 2008 and went on to win every domestic trophy on offer with Amakhosi. Lebese cut ties with the club almost a decade after making his debut. He revealed that he left the Soweto giants because he was tired of being “average” after another underwhelming season with Amakhosi, the club having gone trophyless for a second successive season.

Tomorrow’s match will be his first meeting with his former club since he made that statement and moved to Chloorkop in August.

“I am not going to take this match personally, it’s not about me but about the club,” Lebese said. “It’s possible for me to put everything aside. I’ve been avoiding talking to anyone at Chiefs for the past two weeks. 

"That’s how crucial this game is. I have been ignoring their calls. I don’t want to speak to them before the game. We’ll catch up after the game. That’s been working so far.”

Lebese was quick and emphatic in his response on whether he will celebrate should he score against his former team.

“Yes! I respect Kaizer Chiefs. They are a big brand. They taught me everything I know. But at the end of the day, it’s entertainment. It is about me and where I am at right now. I am in a happy place. So if I score, why not,” Lebese said.

The two-week PSL recess due to the international break and MTN8 final has been helpful for Lebese. It bought him time to be fully fit ahead of Sundowns’ clash with his former team. Lebese is still getting used to his new surroundings and demands from coach Pitso Mosimane.

“It felt kind of weird at first wearing another jersey. It hasn’t really sunk in. I have to work my way up and try to catch up with the great players who are here. It’s been great so far. I can’t complain. I think that if I spend more time with the great people, great coach and wonderful technical staff here, I will get used to it,” Lebese said.

The Brazilians are licking their wounds after their elimination in the Caf Champions League in the quarter-finals by Moroccan team Wydad Casablanca. That disappointment hit Lebese hard as he was looking forward to making a name for himself in the continent like his teammates did last year. 

Sundowns have been forced to shift their focus to the domestic league and make good on Mosimane’s promise to fetch the title from Wits. While Sundowns are recovering from failing to defend their African crown, Chiefs are looking to bounce back from a defeat to Baroka FC which shows the gulf in class between these two clubs at the moment.

“The guys didn’t take being eliminated in the Champions League too well because they had expectations to make the final,” Lebese said. “I was also disappointed not to have gone that far with the team. I was really looking forward to retaining the Cup. It didn’t happen. We have another opportunity to go back there next year to fight for the club and the country.”

The Star