Bongani Zungu’s regrettable actions a lesson for young footballers
By Mihlali Baleka
NOTHING beats proper development, which is why it's paramount to grab the opportunity with both hands when it presents itself – regardless of the circumstances.
To know what not to do is as important as to know what to do, and the former is not self-taught.
I mean, think of the invaluable knowledge that Bongani Zungu would have grasped if he actually went to a football academy.
I am not saying this because I think he's not talented enough. In fact, far from it, because he too knows just how good he is.
In 2019, he even told NewFrame that “I know that I am blessed with talent, raw talent”, although “I never played in an academy”.
To his justification, his talent took him from South Africa to the world – notably Portugal, France and currently Scotland, where he's on the books of Rangers on a season-long loan deal that would have been made permanent if he impressed.
This was a huge stage for Zungu to make his mark abroad and to the world. I mean, Rangers are playing in one of the top 10 leagues in Europe, are regulars in the Uefa competitions, and are coached by Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard.
But instead, the 28-year-old midfielder has made noise for the wrong reasons, recently breaching the Covid-19 restrictions with four youngsters to put a stint that hadn't gone according to plan from the start on even thinner ice.
This was really disappointing, but it was not surprising. Since moving abroad, Zungu has rubbed his superiors up the wrong way.
It all started with the tweet “Coach Rulani has made Pirates a top team again! Coach Rulani u the boss. Trust me, it's him. Even at Sundowns – ask Keagan Dolly, he'll tell you”.
The former Mamelodi undowns midfielder was suggesting that assistant coach Rulani Mokwena was the backbone of Orlando Pirates' turnaround, and not coach Micho Sredojevic.
The tweet also implied that Mokwena was the mastermind behind Sundowns' success, not Pitso Mosimane.
Zungu, though, said the tweet was blown out of proportion.
But he didn't stop there. Early last year he tweeted, “Wow” with a laughing emoji after coach Molefi Ntseki left him out of Bafana Bafana's squad for the Afcon qualifiers. Safa looked into the matter and they too forgave him – just like Mosimane and Mokwena.
But now that Rangers won't be retaining his services next term, I am left to wonder whether his behaviour would be different if he started out at an academy.
Perhaps that is where he would have learnt some valuable life lessons. There's a lesson in there somewhere for our football bosses ...