OPINION: Mngwengwe's legacy will live on forever
Mngwengwe has left us too soon. I still remember how friendly he was, how he engaged with the media and the fans, and how humble he was. He was also a real talent, although I doubt that any of us really saw his full potential.
The 30-year-old defender was someone with immense ability. He was destined for greater things but his death has denied us what could have been a stellar career.
The first time I realised his potential was when Arrows were pitted against Mamelodi Sundowns at King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi. What a game he had that day. The Brazilians’ Dove Wome was on top of his game that season and opponents dreaded playing against him. He created havoc among defences but Mngwengwe - at only 22 - showed his true potential by silencing Wome.
That was still under the tutelage of Manqoba Mngqithi, who was not afraid to throw youngsters into the deep end during his time as the head coach of Abafana Bes’thende. From that afternoon onwards, Mngwengwe never looked back. He cemented his place in the starting XI and became a stalwart at Arrows.
When Abafana Bes’thende were relegated in 2014, Mngwengwe stayed loyal to the club even though there were reports that other teams were interested in his services. He opted to stay with Arrows anyway. And he was key to Arrows, then under the regime of Shaun Bartlett, winning back promotion the next season.
I covered a lot of first division football that season, when Arrows were still based at Chatsworth Stadium. It was my privilege to witness the best of Mngwengwe that season. I recall there was a time when Arrows went more than 10 games without conceding a goal. Guess who was the leader of that defence? It was Mngwengwe.
At the end of the season, Abafana Bes’thende were crowned first division champions.
💚💛🙏🏾 Rest In Peace Sgora 🥺😢 pic.twitter.com/58c0eeMwKx— Lamontville Golden Arrows FC (@goldenarrowsfc1) May 18, 2020
Most football reporters in KwaZulu-Natal felt that Mngwengwe was worthy of a spot in the national team. I remember on numerous occasions in the media box before Arrows’ matches at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu conversations concerning whether Mngwengwe deserved a look-in at national level.
My colleagues were often indignant about his continued omission from Bafana Bafana and blamed it on the fact that he was playing for a modest team.
I echoed my colleagues’ sentiments. He was a mainstay for Arrows and always performed at a superhuman level, even though for the last two seasons he struggled with injuries.
He may now be gone but he will never be forgotten in the hearts of Arrows supporters. As they say: “The man will come, the man will go, but the footprints he left shall never be washed away by the rain.”
Lalala ngoxolo Sgora! May your soul rest in eternal peace.