Nomvethe rolls back the years to push Usuthu for­ward

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: GER­HARD DURAAN / BACKPAGEPIX

SIYABONGA NOMVETHE SIL­VER FOX Siyabonga Nomvethe has been the driv­ing force be­hind AmaZulu’s change in for­tunes lately

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