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Ryan Moon takes centre stage at Kaizer Chiefs

For all their star names and expensive imports, it is one of the young brigade who has made the biggest impact at Kaizer Chiefs in recent times and it could be his goals that lift them to the title.

Ryan Moon has netted in four of the club's last five games, only failing to find the back of the net in the 0-0 stalemate against Mamelodi Sundowns in late January.

With Colombian forward Leonardo Castro not yet up to full match fitness, the 21-year-old Moon has been entrusted with the starting position and he has not disappointed.

He has out-shone Venezuelan forward Gustavo Paez and the more experienced Bernard Parker, although to be fair the latter has had an injury lay-off, and is very much the 'man of the moment' ahead of their crunch Premier Soccer League clash with Cape Town City on Saturday.

Moon, the younger brother of former Bafana Bafana wide player Bryce and an international in his own right, is relishing the opportunity he has been given and says the competition for places up front for the AmaKhosi is what drives him forward.

"It's good to have competition because it gets the best out of you," he told reporters on Thursday. "In our team we have healthy competition for the keepers to the strikers. That's very important because it can only benefit the team.

"The best player gets to play."

Moon's strengths are his finishing, he is particularly adept with the head, and if given the chance to develop is an exciting prospect for South African football.

He is the type of player who appears to go 'missing' for periods during matches, but then pops up with a vital goal, something that does not appear to concern coach Steve Komphela too much.

"Strikers do that‚" Komphela told reporters last week. "When you are in a game you have to be seen when you're just about to strike.

"You should not be seen when you prepare it. You will always see him (Moon) when he strikes.

"You never see a snake while it is searching and looking for a target, but you see it when it matters most," he added. "It's good that he's seen and not seen because if he's constantly seen‚ then they can monitor him.

"He's a natural goal scorer; he's got gift and luck for goals. I think strikers are like leaders‚ they are born compared to made. Ryan is that. He's a born striker."

Moon came through the development ranks at hometown club Maritzburg United, making his PSL debut as a teenager in February 2016.

After just three appearances he was a surprise signing for Chiefs at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, but a player that Komphela, a former head coach at Maritzburg, knew well.

His chances in his first season at Naturena were limited, but his promise was spotted by Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, who handed him three caps in the qualifiers for the African Nations Championship that were played in July and August last year.

Moon scored in two of those, including on debut against Botswana, though he also did give up a number of chances to add to that tally. Still, two goals from three appearances is a fine start.

Ryan's older brother Bryce played 19 times for Bafana and also abroad in Greece with Panathinaikos, later turning out for top local sides SuperSport United, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits.

However, his career never quite survived a tragic night in 2009 when he was driving a car that killed a pedestrian, Mavis Ncube. He was later acquitted on all charges, but the incident left a stain on his reputation and his career, and he made just a handful of national team appearances after that, all in low-key games.

Ryan has the chance, therefore, to eclipse his brother and for someone who is clearly his role model, that would be an honour.

"As a family we would go to every game that Bryce played at and be very supportive and meet some of the players," Ryan recalls, as reported by the South African Federation. "When I first found out about the national team call-up, I sent Bryce so many messages but did not tell him what happened, I kept on saying 'guess what' so many times.

"He got worried that something terrible had happened, but when he found out he was very excited and called me immediately to tell me he was proud of me and wished me luck.

"He has always been my role model, I have always looked up to him and to follow in his footsteps is a great honour. I would also want to achieve those things too - being at Bafana Bafana and playing overseas."

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