No ‘bad blood’ between Bongani Zungu and Bafana coach Ntseki
DURBAN - Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has cleared the air about his relationship with star midfielder Bongani Zungu.
While Ntseki believes a player’s disappointment for non-selection is understandable, he insists that should be no reason for strained relations between a coach and the affected player.
The France-based midfielder was left out of the Bafana squad scheduled to play Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers home and away. The decision appeared to have left Zungu baffled and social media trawlers pointed to his tweet soon after the squad announcement. The former Mamelodi Sundowns player posted what was perceived to be a reaction saying: “Wow” with a laughing emoji. The post was later deleted.
But Ntseki has explained that his decision (to leave him out) was to allow Zungu to focus on helping Amiens SC avoid relegation in the French Ligue 1 since he recently recovered from an injury that kept him out of the last Bafana camp.
In an interview with Independent Media, the Bafana coach sought to clear the air about Zungu’s omission but sounded a little disappointed with the midfielder’s reported reaction.
“What is important for me is to look after all the South African players and profile each one of them. We announced the squad after sitting for eight hours to come up with the 25 and 50 players we selected. If every player has to react like Bongani Zungu, we wouldn’t be giving a good picture of the relationships we have with our players and our clubs.
— Bongani Zungu (@BonganiZungu08) March 25, 2020
"There are other players who felt they deserved selection but were not called up. They are probably feeling the same way but didn’t react the same way. They showed respect for themselves, their country and the national team as a whole,” Ntseki articulated.
Zungu was the top performer for Bafana at Afcon last year in Egypt. His command of the midfield and intelligent passing saw Bafana reach the quarter-finals. He also came close to moving to Real Mallorca in the Spanish La Liga only for the move to miss the deadline.
Ntseki added: “Those who are selected ahead of you, they celebrate the selection and look forward to representing their country. If you are not selected, it is a disappointment but this has to be handled in a very professional and respectful manner. I’m not going to talk much about what happened with Bongani Zungu.”
Fans will be hoping Ntseki will keep his doors open for Zungu who is one of the biggest talents to come out of this country in recent years. National coaches before him, of course, have dropped players if their disagreements or personalities have been a detriment to the national side.
“All I’m saying is that if you are not selected there will be other channels that you can make use of in trying to air your disappointment. As for the rest of the guys who are disappointed, I respect them all. Their chance will come again and they will again be looked at, “ Ntseki elaborated.
“There’s no bad blood between me and any other player who is not selected for Bafana Bafana but
who feel they deserve to be in the team.
"There’s no bad blood. Bongani has been selected for Bafana in our past three camps since I took over. I don’t want us to entertain the possibility
of bad blood creeping in,” Ntseki stated.
In place of Zungu, Andile Jali made a return to the national team. Ntseki did well to explain his open-mindedness, but there is little doubt he was not pleased with Zungu's behaviour.