JOHANNESBURG – Amakhosi host Free State Stars in the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow night (kick-off 8.15pm), but it is again unlikely that Ntshangase, one of two headline signings for Chiefs in January, will win a place in the starting line-up.
Jokes were flying around on social media on Wednesday when a picture of Ntshangase carrying practice balls before the team’s training session got under way emerged, the quip being that the player had been reduced to a mere ball-boy.
“I am not happy with my contribution because I haven’t yet had enough game time,” he said. “What is important is for me to continue to work hard so that I am able to grab my chance when the opportunity comes.”
There was a lot of fanfare from Chiefs supporters and even those from rival teams who simply can’t hide their admiration for the former Black Leopards captain.
But Ntshangase has had almost no role to play in changing the club’s fortunes since he arrived, leaving fans frustrated and asking questions.
The player himself revealed that he’d had a conversation with coach Steve Komphela about his lack of involvement.
“I won’t necessarily put it like that,” Ntshangase responded when told by journalists that Komphela believes he is struggling to adjust to the demands at Chiefs. “I think that is the way he sees it.”
How does the player explain his exclusion then?
“I have always wanted to play for Chiefs, so the hype and the pressure did not distract me. When you play for a big team you should expect pressure. Given an opportunity to play, maybe I can impress,” he said.
“What is important is for the team to win. It’s not about Ntshangase, but about the brand. And up until a point where the coach gives me a chance to play, I can’t really comment on what it’s like to see the team struggling when I am on the bench. We spoke about why I am not playing and I am trying to work on it.”
“A complete player can defend and attack, that's what the coach wants. So I think one thing that lacks for me is my defending. I will get a chance.”
Ntshangase continues to be way down the pecking order in midfield and has even found himself overlooked in favour of striker Bernard Parker, who has also played in that No 10 role that was talked up as belonging to Ntshangase when he joined Chiefs.
With Komphela eager to reach the cup final and go all the way to end Amakhosi’s barren three-year spell in his time there, it is difficult to see the 24-year-old getting the nod ahead of George Maluleka, Hendrik Ekstein and Parker against Stars tomorrow.
“I think the fact that I have always wanted to be here (be a Chiefs player), I won’t relax. I know my chance will come, but I will keep fighting,” Ntshangase said.