Orlando Pirates defender Alfred Ndengane is not losing any sleep over being snubbed by Bafana Bafana, saying he can only control his contribution at club level.
In January Ndengane left Bloemfontein Celtic to join Pirates, who needed a centre-back to partner captain Happy Jele as Nyasha Munetsi was in-and-out of the team, while Justice Chabalala and Ntsikelelo Nyauza were completely demoted to the stands.
Ndengane had a decent second half of the season with the Buccaneers, playing 10 league matches out his team’s 15, as they huffed and puffed to finish as runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns for the Premiership title.
However, Ndengane’s exploits were not enough to earn him a place in Bafana’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The Capetonian-born footballer was yet again overlooked by Bafana’s new coach, Molefi Ntseki, who took over from Stuart Baxter, for the Nelson Mandela Challenge squad that would play Mali at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on October 13.
Sure, Pirates have been leaky at the back this season, conceding eight goals in the last three matches, but Ndengane can feel hard done by as he has played well and even scored for his side in his team’s 3-3 draw with Cape Town City on Saturday.
“I’m just a hard-worker. First and foremost, I like to work for my team and make sure that I do well for the coaches,” Ndengane said.
“Every time that I am playing, I always want to do well and if there’s anything that comes after that, it’s really not in my power (to control).”
Before assuming the hot seat early last month, Ntseki had assisted his last two predecessors Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba and Baxter, who resigned after the team’s roller-coaster outing at the Afcon.
And that’s why when Ntseki announced his squad to face Mali next week, there were not many surprises.
However, whether he’ll continue with the centre-back pairing of Bidvest Wits duo Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi, who were a cog for the team under Baxter, remains to be seen.
Pirates coach Rhulani Mokwena, however, believes that while Bucs may have had an underwhelming season so far, but they’ve produced arguably the best right-back in the country at the moment in James Monyane, something that’s an achievement considering he is only 19.
“He fights and he loves the club. He plays like a ranger, and runs up and down,” Mokwena said.
“He’s available in defence and puts crosses in the final third that (Tshegofatso) Mabasa can benefit from. At that age, there’s no need to feel any pressure, he should just continue to express himself and enjoy his football. It’s unbelievable. Kudos to Orlando Pirates’ development coaches for identifying him. He’s a top player and I think he’s currently the best right-back in the country.”
Aware of the Bafana snub, Ndengane will draw inspiration from teammates Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch, the only two players that will represent the club during Bafana’s clash with Mali.
Pirates will be hoping to turn their fortunes around sooner than later, a feat that could see Ntseki selection more of their players.