JOHANNESBURG - Aubrey Ngoma has mixed-feelings about his return to the Mother City after switching from Cape Town City to join his hometown club Mamelodi Sundowns.
The lad from Hammanskraal will face his former team for the first time on Friday night at Athlone Stadium. The last time these two clubs squared off, Ngoma produced the assist in the 1-0 win that saw the Citizens complete a hat-trick of successive victories over the Brazilians to confirm their status as Sundowns’ hoodoo team.
“I think what helped us consistently beat Sundowns was the team spirit that we had,” Ngoma said. “We were driven to beat the so-called big teams and make a name for ourselves, especially since we were a new and small club.
"It’s not that we planned differently for Sundowns but the drive and dedication was always high against them. We wanted to beat the former African champions which is a big deal and is why we gave 150 percent effort against them.”
Both teams will be psyched up for this top-of-the-table clash. A win for the Brazilians will see them pull away from the chasing pack by increasing their lead to seven points at the summit. A win for second-placed City will cut Sundowns’ lead to one point with 10 more matches to go in the Absa Premiership race.
The homework that Sundowns players would have done to prepare for this match - analysing their performance in their last three matches as well as looking at their opponents' last three games - was probably the easiest Ngoma has done because of his knowledge of City. But the big test for the 28-year-old will be to control his emotions in his reunion.
“I have mixed-feelings about this game,” Ngoma said. “I don’t even know what I will do should I score. My reaction will be whatever comes naturally, in terms of whether I celebrate or not. It will be driven by what I feel at that moment. I have fond memories of my time at Cape Town City.
"They took my football to the next level and I grew as a person and as a player in my time there. My proudest moment was when we won the Telkom Knockout in our first season. But I have to move on, now I am at Sundowns and if I am given the chance I will look to help the team break the spell Cape Town City have over us.”
The Citizens will still be without coach Benni McCarthy who is serving the second of his two-match ban following his sending off in the heated iKapa Derby against neighbours Ajax Cape Town. McCarthy’s assistant Vasili Manousakis will lead the team in his absence. While Ngoma would have been guaranteed to start for City, he doesn’t have that luxury in a star-studded Sundowns team.
“It’s a big motivation to see a player who is on your level, if not better than you, on the bench while you play ahead of him, that means you must give it your all because if you don’t there is a more than capable replacement waiting,” Ngoma said. “Such competition keeps you on your toes and it can only be good for the team and your development as a player.”