JOHANNESBURG – Aubrey Ngoma looks back at the last time he played for a club with a big support base and higher demands to excel with pride despite his failure to make an impact at Orlando Pirates.
“I don’t regret signing for Orlando Pirates from University of Pretoria,” the lad from Hammanskraal, who signed for Mamelodi Sundowns from Cape Town City said. “My time at Pirates was a great learning experience. It showed me where I was with my game and what I needed to do to be a regular at a team like Pirates.
“I assessed the situation and I spoke to the technical team and the chairman about leaving. I am glad I joined Pirates and left when I did because that helped me grow as a player.”
Ngoma joins the Brazilians as the best midfielder in the country without much to prove, unlike when he signed for the Buccaneers three years ago. He reinvented himself at Mpumalanga Black Aces and City after John Comitis bought and relocated club. His time with the Citizens washed away the bad memories at Pirates, earning him a fan in Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane.
“The football conversation we had made me realise that I was making the right decision by signing for Sundowns,” Ngoma said. “He likes players who are comfortable on the ball and aren’t afraid to take on defenders. That’s how I am as a player. Our conversation assured me that I was taking the right step.”
The 28-year-old will not feature tomorrow in the Brazilians’ clash with Polokwane City at Peter Mokaba Stadium even though he has recovered from the hamstring he pulled against Sundowns in his last match for the Citizens.
Ngoma has been declared fit but is yet to start training with Sundowns, which means he could make his debut for his hometown team in his old home, Cape Town Stadium, on Tuesday against Ajax Cape Town.
Even though Ngoma arrives at Sundowns with more pedigree and a bigger status than he had when he joined the Buccaneers for his season-long stay, he still has to show that he can fit into a “big team” where he is swimming with sharks in deadly waters unlike being a big fish in a small pond.
Said Ngoma: “There’s a huge different between the player I was when I joined Pirates to the player I am now. I have matured as a person and as a footballer. I know what I am getting myself into and I don’t think that I fully realised that at Pirates because I was still young. But I have never looked back since that move. I have instead grown to show that I am a good player and how things panned out at Pirates wasn’t necessarily a reflection on my talent.
I signed for Sundowns because I want to win the league and challenge for honours beyond the country. Sundowns are a team that can challenge for the league every season. They have won the Caf Champions League and the Caf Super Cup which means that their ambitions goes beyond our borders. That’s where I also want to compete.”
Keagan Dolly, Bongani Zungu and Khama Billiat’s transformation at Sundowns also motivated Ngoma to sign with the Brazilians. Dolly and Zungu went from promising young players to plying their trade in France after working with Sundowns.
Last year Billiat was runner-up to his teammate Denis Onyango in Caf’s Footballer of the Year - Based in Africa award. “Even though I have grown as a player, I am not where I want to be. I believe that this is the club that can help me reach my best.”