DURBAN – Maritzburg United midfield ace Siphesihle Ndlovu wants to make history and crown his great displays this season with an award or trophy.
The Team of Choice host Mamelodi Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup semi-final clash at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday.
Ndlovu's meteoric rise has been worthy of admiration, so much so that even Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter couldn’t ignore him.
Ndlovu said yesterday that his mission is on two things right now, reaching the Cup final and winning the Young Player of the Season award.
“We are looking forward to the match against Sundowns. We want to reach the final to make history. I know they also want to take everything on offer to them (the PSL and Nedbank Cup), so it won't be an easy game,” Ndlovu said.
Maritzburg have never reached a Cup final. Their best Cup run was when they were defeated by Orlando Pirates in the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup in 2014.
“We don’t have any pressure. As an individual I don’t have any pressure. I just feel happy I’m playing in front of my parent and in my home town. It feels good to be playing a game of this magnitude at home. The crowd is always behind us,” Ndlovu explained.
The midfield maestro has been a colossal figure for the Team of Choice.
“It has really been a hard season, but I’m really grateful for the things I’ve achieved. The opposition have been targeting me. It is all about hard work and I know I need to grind more. I have to keep calm because if you are targeted you can easily get frustrated, but I know I have to stay calm. It is very important to keep your feet on the ground. That’s all,” Ndlovu stated.
At the end of the season he might get a lot of nominations for the PSL Awards which includes the Young Player of the Season, Most Promising Player of the Tournament in the Nedbank Cup and the Midfielder of the Season. Ndlovu is eager to win the Young Player of the Season award.
“At the start of the season I wasn’t expecting anything, but now I can start dreaming. Things are happening. Even if I’m a contender it is fine. The one that I’m keen to win is the Young Player Award,” Ndlovu said.
Maritzburg are third on the league standings and if they can hold on they will qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup.
“The experience I got from the national team has made me strong. Playing in Africa is a very nice adventure. They really kick there. We'll get more exposure if we qualify to play in Africa,” Ndlovu said.
Meanwhile, Highlands Park’s veteran goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini says he owes his impressive form this season to goalkeeper coach Stavros Tsichlas.
Kapini conceded a mere 11 goals while Highlands Park found the opposition net a massive 56 times en route to winning the NFD championship with four games to spare.
That success has earned them automatic promotion to the PSL next season.
“All the credit for my form this season must go to the coach Tsichlas,’’ Kapini said. “He made me realise that I am talented and that age is not a factor in the game of football.
“You just have to look at the likes of Andre Arendse who played until he was above 40 years. Gialuingi Buffon (40) is still playing and Essam El-Hadary (45) from Egypt is going to this year’s World Cup in Russia.
“Tsichlas told me to look at these guys and not worry about the age because people will always say what they want. He would tell me that if I remained focused and humble, I’ll be one of the best goalkeepers again.”
Highlands will be looking to shine again in South Africa's elite league as they seek to stay more than just a season in the top division.