JOHANNESBURG - Playing for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates is generally regarded as the pinnacle for many an aspirant football player in the country. Jabulani Shongwe, however, went against the mould when he recently joined Golden Arrows despite interest from the Soweto giants.
Shongwe was at Bidvest Wits last season where he struggled for game time and as a result, requested to leave the club. And it was common knowledge that both Chiefs and Pirates were keen on his services.
“It was an easy decision to join Arrows. Their style of play suites my game. I also saw an opportunity to play regularly. I’m still struggling with my fitness but slowly getting there. The boss (Mato Madlala) told me about her big plans for the club and I want to be the part of that project,” Shongwe said after his side snatched a 2-2 draw against Polokwane City at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu on Saturday.
Regarding his time at Wits, Shongwe said: “It was very frustrating because I was a regular the season before and then last season I was on the bench most of the time.
"Despite my frustration, I had to stay disciplined and focused. It is all about knowing what you want. If you know what you want, you have to be focused even if you face challenges.
"The coach (Gavin Hunt) gave me reasons as to why I was not playing ... but obviously, as a player, it is difficult to understand why you're sitting on the bench because you were doing well the previous season. I had to stay strong. I’m at Arrows now and I don’t have to deal with that situation anymore.”
Arrows are yet to taste defeat this season in the league after nine matches. Abafana Bes’thende are currently second on the log. Their only defeat this season came against Wits, on penalties, during the quarter-final of the MTN8.
On Saturday they will face Orlando Pirates at Princess Magogo in the the last 16 of the Telkom Knockout. Can the man that was wanted by the Buccaneers hurt them?
“We are happy that we are still unbeaten in the league. We have a week to prepare for Pirates. We are confident enough that we will do well against them. They are also doing very well at the moment,” Shongwe elaborated.
"We have to keep working hard and be calm come matchday. Games against Pirates are easy to prepare for. The most difficult games are against small teams. Pirates are the big team and they attract massive support wherever they go. On the pitch it won’t be easy. At the moment we are doing very well and we will be motivated to continue doing well."
Shongwe and Arrows, however, will first have to overcome SuperSport United on Tuesday (kick off 7.30pm) in a league encounter.