|Cuthbert Malajila @ Backpagepix
Maritzburg United striker Cuthbert Malajila’s journey to the PSL was anything but a straightforward one.
In just a short space of time, Malajila has made an enormous impact on the Absa Premiership.
The Zimbabwean joined the Team of Choice midway through last season, and scored a handful of crucial goals, several of them against the PSL’s biggest clubs, to help his side steer comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
This season he has picked up where he left off, netting a brace in Maritzburg’s 2-0 win over AmaZulu.
The 26-year-old however remains adamant that his focus is not an individual one; if he’s doing a job for the team, he’s a happy man.
“It not about me, it’s about the team. It’s my way of thanking management for giving me a chance, and to keep the fans happy. Doing well for the team and not worrying about my personal achievements.
“Playing against the big teams, it’s about showing strength of character. You are there to show as Maritzburg United what you can do, to do it for the Maritzburg family,” he said.
The Kadoma-born player’s route to the PSL is an intriguing one, taking him on several detours before finally signing for United, who had been chasing him since 2010.
Back in Zimbabwe, Malajila initially played for the Airforce team while serving as a soldier for two and a half years.
“Growing up I always wanted to be a footballer. I spent most of my time playing football while serving in the army, and then decided to resign to focus full time on my soccer career. I started playing in the First Division before later joining Dynamos.”
It was at Dynamos that he attracted the attention of the Maritzburg technical team, but they were initially unable to get their man. In the meantime, Malajila was headed north for what turned out to be an ill-fated venture.
“My club decided to sell to Club Africain in Tunisia. But after only a month there, I was loaned out to Libya where I played for Alakhdhar.
“It was an interesting experience, but a tough one. English was not spoken there, only French and Arabic. I tried my best to adapt but it was not easy.
“Then when the revolution happened I had to flee the country and return home, before joining Maritzburg.”