Nomvethe rolls back the years to push Usuthu forward
Siyabonga “Bhele” Nomvethe is closing in on two milestones this year: he’ll celebrate two decades as a professional player and is 10 months away from his 39th birthday.
And in case you were wondering if age has slowed Nomvethe down, look no further than the leading goalscorer charts in the National First Division (NFD).
The AmaZulu striker has scored eight goals so far this season, a statistic that reflects the impact Bhele has made in a league that forces clubs to start matches with five players in the Under-23 age group.
The former Moroka Swallows marksman will lead the Usuthu attack against the struggling Mthatha Bucks in the Eastern Cape today, where he is expected to continue his goal-scoring exploits.
He has rewarded coach Steve Barker with five goals in three appearances since he joined Usuthu last month, including a hat-trick in AmaZulu’s 5-0 demolition of FC Cape Town last Sunday.
Nomvethe’s arrival coincided with Usuthu scoring 11 goals and conceding just two in their past three matches, a record that makes them favourites at the Mthatha Stadium this afternoon.
“[The remaining] 13 games is a long way to go. The best way to deal with competition is to focus on your job at hand and worry less about what others are doing. The NFD is a difficult league,” said Nomvethe, who left Swallows with three NFD goals to his name.
He attributed his fine form to “being home” after 17 years based elsewhere.
“It’s good to be back in Durban. I have never been so close to home since I left [African] Wanderers for Kaizer Chiefs [in 1998],” said Nomvethe, who hails from KwaMashu township, which is also home to Usuthu.
His return rolled back the years to where it all started for Nomvethe, who was a member of the “Three Musketeers” who used to terrorise defenders who played against Wanderers in the late 1990s.
He is the last man standing of the trio – Sibusiso “Rhee” Zuma and Phumlani “BMX” Mkhize have retired.
“I missed home and I wanted to be closer to my mother and grandmother.”
As for his longevity in the game, Nomvethe, a father of two, said: “I look after my body. And, irrespective of my age, I have a God-given talent that I must continue to embrace. I also enjoy good family support.”
Nomvethe was among AmaZulu’s key signings during the recently concluded player transfer-window period, along with Sibusiso Hadebe, Zaid Patel, Morris Hlongwa and Jingxi Zola Kingston, the other new acquisitions.
Eighth-placed Usuthu were 10 points adrift of leaders Baroka FC before this weekend’s fixtures, still in with a chance to challenge for automatic promotion or at least grab a promotional play-off berth.
Meanwhile, Bucks are fighting for their lives at the basement of the table.
They have recorded just two wins in 17 matches so far this campaign, including a shock victory over fellow strugglers Swallows at home in December.
Bucks will again face the Birds in a crucial six-point encounter in Soweto on Saturday.
It’s good to be back in Durban
SIYABONGA NOMVETHE SILVER FOX Siyabonga Nomvethe has been the driving force behind AmaZulu’s change in fortunes lately