JOHANNESBURG – Siyabonga Ngezana may have spent most of his time kicking his heels in the stands this season, but he cut an optimistic figure when he gauged his chances of being an integral part of the Kaizer Chiefs team, once again.
Promoted to the senior team at the start of the 2016/17 season, Ngezana failed to make an appearance when Amakhosi battled to fourth position on the standings.
But it was towards the end of the following season that his promising career looked to be finally taking off at Chiefs, making 15 appearances in all competitions under coach Steve Komphela.
However, the coaching changes made by the club didn’t help his course, only making 12 appearances under Giovanni Solinas and Ernst Middendorp.
For the latter, that was a phase of trial and error as he assessed his players.
But having had a full pre-season and with a clear mandate to deliver, Middendorp already knows his trusted men.
And sadly, Ngezana doesn’t appear to make the grade. In the first four matches, he’s made the 18-man squad once, while Bafana Bafana internationals Eric Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso have been partnering each other in the heart of defence.
To make things worse, Chiefs have bolstered their central defensive contingent with Yagan Sasman, suggesting what little faith Middendorp may have in Ngezana.
But the 22-year-old defender is not ready to throw in the towel.
“Things are the way they are, I can’t run away from that,” Ngezana said. “But obviously as a player, I am waiting for my moment to get an opportunity. Mentally I am ready because I was with the team during pre-season, so I am waiting for my time ... it will come.”
With Chiefs at the summit of the Premiership standings, there is little chance of Middendorp changing his team.
Ngezana, though, draws inspiration from Mathoho, who’s working his way back to his peak after sitting out for the better part of last term to an injury.
“I regard Tower as a role-model, I’ve always looked up to him. From my days in the club’s junior levels, I’ve always looked up to him.
“It’s really a privilege that I am playing with him,” he said. “It gives me great confidence to see him come back.”
Things may not be going according to plan at club level, but Ngezana is on a high from playing a part in the Under-23 national men’s team’s aspirations to qualify for the CAF eight nations, where they’ll need a top three finish to book their spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The South Africans’ ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt later this year should be confirmed this afternoon against Zimbabwe in the final round of the qualifier at Barbourfields Stadium.
David Notoane’s troops have 5-0 lead heading into the second leg.@Mihlalibaleka