Ntiya-Ntiya playing for Chiefs and needy family
In a league that can either break or make you as a youngster, there’s been quite an overwhelming number of reserve team graduates that have grabbed their Premiership experience by the scruff of the neck - while some, of course, have been drowned by the pressure.
Promoted by then coach Steve Komphela early last year, Ntiya-Ntiya stepped into the Premiership tasked to fill the void left by the then injured favourite player Tsepo Masilela. And the 22-year-old left-back went on to become an integral part of the team with 34 appearances and it now seems he’ll be a regular starter under current mentor Ernst Middendorp.
Being focused week in and week out gives the Bizana-born player the means to do his bit for a needy situation back home where he’s providing for his extended family.
“Back home not everyone is working,” the soft-spoken Ntiya-Ntiya told the media at the club village on Thursday.
“They are looking up to me for help. And that’s why I know that if lose this, I’d be losing everything - disappointing a lot of people back at home. That’s why I stay disciplined and work very hard.”
Ntiya-Ntiya may have had his fair share of individual success in the gold and black jersey of Chiefs, but the fact that the club is experiencing a four-year trophy drought haunts him.
Chiefs came close to ending that drought last season after making the Nedbank Cup final, only for their hopes to be dashed by second-tier division side TS Galaxy.
Ntiya-Ntiya wore his heart on the sleeve for the Glamour Boys during that campaign, bagging a nomination for the Nedbank Cup Most Promising Player of the Tournament - only to finally lose out to award winner Terrence Mashego.
“When the team trains twice a day, I train three times. And when they train once, I train twice,” he says. “So, I think it’s all about hard work. From where I come from in the rural Eastern Cape life is not easy. But now that I’ve experienced Durban and now Johannesburg I know the difference. I know what I have and if I lose it, then I’ll be losing everything.”
Silverware may have eluded Ntiya-Ntiya in the last 20 months with the seniors. However the future appears to be bright under German tactician Middendorp.
Chiefs, who missed out on the MTN8 after finishing ninth in the log standings, have started their Premiership campaign on a high note - winning their first two matches against Highlands Park and Black Leopards respectively.
And they’ll be hoping to continue with the momentum when they clash with SuperSport at FNB Stadium tonight (6pm kick-off).
“The break was a blessing because we got to watch and see how other teams play which is to our advantage. I think Kaizer Chiefs, and only Kaizer Chiefs, will win the league (this season).”@MihlaliBaleka