Steve Komphela urges Mamelodi Sundowns not to drop their heads
JOHANNESBURG - Never mess with a wounded animal. Stellenbosch FC should remember that when they visit champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who are engulfed by a dark cloud after a bereavement in the team.
The Tshwane giants, together with the football fraternity, suffered a huge loss early this week following the death of defender Anele Ngcongca in a car accident in KwaZulu-Natal, where he was on the verge of completing a loan move to AmaZulu.
After returning to South Africa following a successful stint with Belgian outfit Genk, Ngcongca joined the Brazilians in 2016. With the Chloorkop-based team, the Gugulethu-born defender won several trophies, including three Premierships titles and the Caf Super Cup.
Revered by his teammates, technical team and supporters of the beautiful game, Ngcongca left his mark on everyone he crossed paths with. And that’s why Sundowns’ senior coach Steve Komphela urged his troops not to drop their heads during these trying times.
“You can be in a tragic situation, but if you don’t have a way of coming out then you have a problem. But how do we come out of this, considering that you have to come out quickly and very sensitively,” Komphela said.
“If you say, ‘ah, let’s forget, let’s move on, it’s sensitive’. But you’ve got to be realistic. It’s a very sensitive issue to many of you. But one thing you should know that after a huge setback, you need to know that we need to take our lives back.”
Tomorrow’s match at Loftus is their first game since the passing of Ngcongca, and that’s why Komphela was spot on in his message.
Ngcongca last featured for the Brazilians in their final game of last season in the “bio bubble” when they beat Bloemfontein Celtic to hoist the Nedbank Cup – their third trophy of the campaign after already winning the Telkom Knockout and league title.
This season started on a disappointing note for Sundowns after they lost their first game of the campaign 1-0 to Celtic in the MTN8 quarter-finals. However, they recovered, heading into the Premiership.
Sundowns are second on the league standings with 10 points, one behind leaders Swallows FC, who have played a game more. Should Sundowns bag the points against Stellenbosch, they will go top of the log.
And that feat will please the loyal “Yellow Nation”, as the team is known to be slow starters after juggling continental and domestic football. But no doubt it would also be a desirable start for the “three wise men” whose appointments were greeted with controversy.
Following the departure of Pitso Mosimane, Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena were appointed as co-coaches, while Komphela joined the technical team as a senior coach from fellow top-flight side Golden Arrows.
And having got a bye in the first round of the preliminary round of the Champions League qualifiers this weekend, Sundowns need all the points they can get before the heavy continental/domestic schedule gets underway next month.
But three points tomorrow would be largely about honouring Ngcongca – a true legend of the beautiful game who also earned 52 caps for Bafana Bafana.
And that is why Stellenbosch should be wary and avoid any sort of complacency.