Could this Kaizer Chiefs reunion get the best out of Njabulo Blom?

Njabulo Blom, Kaizer Chiefs, October 2022Backpagepix
  • Blom has been backed to succeed under compatriot Carnell
  • Ex-Chiefs midfielder recently joined MLS new boys St Louis
  • Middendorp has advised his new side to use him at No.6

WHAT HAPPENED? Blom left Chiefs for MLS side St Louis City SC, coached by South African and former Amakhosi defender Carnell, and Middendorp, who worked with the midfielder at Naturena, feels it is the perfect environment for the 23-year-old to succeed.

The highly rated midfielder joined St Louis in December for an undisclosed fee, signing a two-year contract after three-and-a-half seasons with Chiefs and is set to boost Carnell’s side who have been promoted to Major League Soccer ahead of the 2023 season as an expansion team.

Blom made 94 appearances across all competitions for Chiefs, providing eight assists, and Middendorp feels he will not struggle to bed in like compatriot Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who found it difficult to adapt to life in the United States when he joined Minnesota United in 2022.

WHAT DID HE SAY? "It's always helpful if you have a reference point of somebody who knows you. Somebody you can talk to about your own country,” said Middendorp as quoted by SABC.

“Someone who will give you a good discussion on a daily basis, that's very comfortable for a player. For example, Bongokuhle Hlongwane went to the MLS first and it was a bit difficult for him.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Blom was a key cog in Arthur Zwane’s side with his departure leaving a big hole in the Amakhosi midfield. The Dobsonville-born star has played in different positions in midfield in his time at Chiefs with spells at right-back on certain occasions.

WHAT’S MORE? Middendorp feels Blom is primarily a holding midfielder who should be deployed in the No. 6 role if St Louis want to get the best version of him.

"Njabulo Blom was playing for Kaizer Chiefs’ development side when I came in, in December 2018,” he added.

“I brought him quite quickly to the first 11. You could see that he had huge capacity in different moments of the game being part of a good defensive side and also in the build-up in the attacking moments.

"I immediately figured out that he should be used in the holding six in the midfield. He's got a winning mentality, his attacking movements, he got stronger and ended up in the national team and made the right move now to MLS. I'm quite sure he's got a fantastic 10 years ahead.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Blom will hope to make the squad when St Louis, the league’s 29th team, kick off their inaugural campaign away to Austin FC on February 25.

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