Lebogang Manyama (left) and Aubrey Ngoma have formed a deadly partnership for Cape Town City. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
Lebogang Manyama (left) and Aubrey Ngoma have formed a deadly partnership for Cape Town City. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
Aubrey Ngoma on the run for Cape Town City. Photo: Phando Jikelo
Aubrey Ngoma on the run for Cape Town City. Photo: Phando Jikelo
JOHANNESBURG – It’s hard to imagine Aubrey Ngoma on the pitch without Lebogang Manyama, such was their deadly combination at Cape Town City this season.

But Ngoma, who has been called up to Bafana Bafana for the trip to Nigeria this week ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opener in Uyo on Saturday, argued one can still thrive without the other.

During the 2016/17 season which has just ended, Ngoma and Manyama scored 21 goals between them in helping City finish in third place, as well as clinch the Telkom Knockout title.

When national coach Stuart Baxter announced his squad of “warriors” two weeks ago, the omission of Ngoma and his partner in crime would have come as a shock.

Baxter said he couldn’t ignore the duo.

“Obviously we enjoy playing with each other, but at Bafana, we both have to step up on our own because that is another level,” said Ngoma, who is itching to make his national team debut, with this being his first call-up.

“When you make the team, then you have to believe you are among the best players in the country at the time because only the best available players are selected. I think here we can show that we are both capable of proving that we can deliver when asked to play a role within the team.”

Ngoma hasn’t always been so consistent in his career, and there is almost disbelief when Orlando Pirates pops up as one of his former clubs. It is probably what has led to the delay in him being on the radar of previous Bafana coaches.

What happened at Pirates?

“I think different coaches prefer a certain type of player, and I wasn’t what they were looking for while I was at the club,” explained Ngoma, who arrived at Pirates when Augusto Palacios was interim coach before Roger de Sa took his place late in 2012.

Aubrey Ngoma feels local coaches want wingers to score goals instead of just creating chances. Photo: BackpagePix

“Roger used me a bit because there were a lot of games and he was rotating the squad. But eventually I went to (now defunct) Mpumalanga Black Aces because Pirates wanted (Tendai) Ndoro in a swap deal.

“I don’t think I have regrets about my time there. I learnt so much because of the type of players around you. It built my character, and I valued the moments when I played.”

Another reason why Ngoma is a bit of a late bloomer might be linked to the fact that players in his position – natural wingers – are often overlooked in South Africa.

Daine Klate, one of the country’s most decorated wide players, is a typical case, with six Premier League titles and a career spanning 13 years. But he has only made 13 appearances for Bafana to date.

“I think when you are a winger, you are judged on your numbers, the statistics,” Ngoma reasoned.

Will Stuart Baxter pick both Ngoma and Manyama in his starting XI? Photo: BackpagePix

“You have to be creative and score goals, but no one really looks at the fact that you help create chances and the strikers don’t convert. In Europe at the end of the season, they give you all the stats and you can see who created the most chances, even if they were not converted.

“Here you can get overlooked because of those small details. And what ends up happening is that midfielders who play in the No 10 role get used as wingers because their numbers are better, and that is what the coaches want, goals and clear-cut chances.

“Keagan Dolly (another winger) got the Bafana recognition once he started scoring goals and creating chances.”

Ngoma, hoping to make his Bafana debut, is ready to step up – even if it’s without Manyama.

Sunday Independent

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