DURBAN – Proving they erred in letting him go has nothing to do with Thela Ngobeni always producing great performances against his former employers Kaizer Chiefs.
Far from it, for the Free State Stars goalkeeper does not hold any grudges against Amakhosi.
“I don’t have anything against them,” Ngobeni said after his Man-of-the-Match performance in Ea Lla Koto’s 2-0 win over Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals at the Moses Mabhida stadium at the weekend.
“I always try to focus on my game. I try to help the team win matches, and I don’t only do this in matches against Chiefs.”
The stats would suggest otherwise though, Ngobeni’s award-winning showing on Saturday being the second time he's done it against Chiefs.
Last season in the Telkom Knockout quater-finals, it was Ngobeni’s heroics in goal that helped the Bethlehem outfit get the better of Amakhosi, Stars winning 6-5 via a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes.
The goalkeeper laughed off the two awards as coincidence.
“It just happened that I took the Man-of-the-Match twice in cup matches against Chiefs. It’s not like I reserve my best for them.”
And boy was he at his best on Saturday.
While it was Harris Tchilimbou the club was celebrating following his first half brace, Ngobeni’s heroics in goals was key to Stars progressing to their first final since 1994.
There were three brilliant saves that saw him deny Joseph Molangoane, Pule Ekstein and Ryan Moon and his command of the defence in front of him as well as his bossing of the box were proof of a player who has clearly matured into a confident goalkeeper.
That he holds no grudges against Chiefs who never really used him in the senior side is because Ngobeni understands the role the club played in his grooming.
“I grew up at Chiefs and being there taught me so much as a player and a human being.”
“I’ve just gone to Bob Steak (Chiefs Manager Bobby Motaung) now after the match and thanked him for everything they have done for me.”
Ngobeni is officially a Mamelodi Sundowns player on loan at Stars.
Yet given his star performances that sees Stars in line for a rare PSL trophy, it won’t be surprising if Ea Lla Koto strive to get him on their books permanently.