Mon 20 May by Nick Said
TS Galaxy hero Zakhele Lepasa was going nowhere when 2019 dawned, but has shot to stardom with The Rockets in the last few months.
The 22-year-old slotted the penalty that saw the National First Division side make history by becoming the first second-tier side to lift the Nedbank Cup after they defeated Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s decider in Durban.He wrote his name into South African football folklore in the process and moved to top spot in the Nedbank Cup goal-scorers’ list with his fourth goal of the campaign.At the turn of the year he was in the doldrums after a loan move to NFD leaders Stellenbosch FC proved unsuccessful and he was released back to parent club Orlando Pirates.With zero chance of making the Pirates first team he was loaned out again, this time to Galaxy whose coach Dan Malesela saw potential in the player.Lepasa seized that opportunity and finished the season with nine goals in 15 appearances for the Mpumalanga-based club, a record made more impressive by the fact that only 10 of those appearances were full matches.Lepasa grew up in Snake Park, a small suburb of Dobsonville, and was heavily influenced by his football-mad mother Ohopolang Monyai, who would take him to the FNB Stadium to watch her beloved Kaizer Chiefs.Given that it was his goal that ensured Chiefs would end their fourth season without silverware, he might have some apologising to do the next time he sees her!Just a few months ago Lepasa seemed miles away from a Premier League contract, but his exploits in the NFD and Nedbank Cup will have changed many opinions of him.What the future holds is uncertain, but he says he can deal with the pressures of the added expectations that will arise from his exploits in recent months.“The expectations do not put me under any pressure‚” Lepasa said. “Football has pressure on its own but I think it’s also good for my growth and my career.“People will start noticing me‚ start to ask who this person is. But it’s not easy because when that happens it means every team plans against you. For me it means I must come up with new ways of playing because they will target you as a player.”