Kaizer Chiefs defender Siyabonga Ngezana no longer ‘Calamity Siya’

Siyabonga Ngezana is enjoying some good form for Kaizer Chiefs after some early season mistakes. Photo: Gavin BarkerBackpagePix

Siyabonga Ngezana is enjoying some good form for Kaizer Chiefs after some early season mistakes. Photo: Gavin BarkerBackpagePix

Published Apr 6, 2023


Johannesburg - If Siyabonga Ngezana were to have a motto for this Premiership season, the Kaizer Chiefs centre back would most probably go with author Jim George’s popular phrase “it’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish”.

An Amakhosi dependable in previous seasons, Ngezana had the kind of wretched start to the current campaign that could have destroyed many a player’s confidence.

He earned the nickname ‘Calamity Siya’ for some of the errors he made earlier this season. In some instances a bit harsh on the player.

As it was, unforgiving Chiefs fans were on his case – so much so that you would have sworn they were not the same crowd who were previously proclaiming him one of South Africa’s best defenders.

Unsurprisingly, Ngezana found himself out of the Chiefs starting team as coach Arthur Zwane looked to ensure the club’s mission of regaining their glory days was going to be a success.

But true to another popular refrain, which the tall defender could add as his mantra, “you can’t keep a good man down”, Ngezana has recovered well from his setbacks and has been key to Chiefs putting together a good run of form that has seen them notch up five successive victories.

They will be looking for a sixth win in a row when they host a troubled Marumo Gallants at FNB Stadium on Saturday, and coach Zwane will look to the Chiefs development graduate to ensure they shut out the league’s basement dwellers.

At the club’s Taung Village in Naturena yesterday, Ngezana was candid as he reflected on his season, admitting that while the criticism stung, it also helped make him stronger.

“It (criticism) is part of our job; it makes us to be better players,” Ngezana said with a giggle as captain Keagan Dolly teased him while he was speaking to the media.

“It is what helps me get out of my comfort zone.

“It is not easy, but luckily we have support from the technical team and the relationship with the teammates with whom we can laugh and joke to deal with some things.

“And we also have psychological support as well as social media lessons that have helped to handle what is being said out there.”

A much more important aspect that helped Ngezana get over his poor form and find himself back in the thick of things to help the club put themselves in contention for a much-coveted CAF Champions League spot earned via a secondplace finish in the league, is the strength of his relationship with Zwane.

“He is a good coach who coached me from the development (structures). He has so much confidence in me that I always want to do my best not to let him – and the team as well – down.

“So, when things were not going well for me, I put in extra work at training, waiting for my chance to play again because I know that success is when opportunity meets preparation,” Ngezana said.

Ngezana understands that he had build his reputation to such an extent that his mistakes were always going to be much more pronounced than those made by the others.

“I was not the only player making mistakes, but I took the criticism because I know that such things happen to even the best of players,” Ngezana said.

The key is to not let it get you too far down.

Ngezana is now back to his best, with Chiefs seemingly having found their mojo and playing scintillating football at such high intensity their recent opponents have failed to cope with them.

Zwane was at pains to explain that their five-match winning run is not really the result of some magic wand he waved.

“The reality is that we have been playing good football, but we were just let down by our failure to convert our chances because we were creating a lot. And we were making costly mistakes defensively,” Zwane said.

Ngezana was among the big culprits in the latter, but he is now back to his best and one of the main reasons why Chiefs are big favourites to compound Marumo Gallants’ misery at the bottom of the standings.

“We know we have to fight for a good spot on the league table and every match from now on is like a Cup final for us. We need the three points on Saturday,” Ngezana said.

And Chiefs fans will be counting on him to keep the Marumo Gallants’ strikers at bay, a far cry from early in the season when he was something of an Achilles heel for the Soweto club.