Nt­shangase sets sights on Chan qual­i­fier to get back on track

CityPress - - Sport - MAXWELL RAMARU sports@city­press.co.za

Siphelele Nt­shangase says he will use the 2018 African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship (Chan) qual­i­fiers against Zam­bia as a plat­form to re­gain his form.

The first leg of the fi­nal round will take place at Buf­falo City Sta­dium in East Lon­don on Satur­day at 3pm.

The Black Leop­ards mid­fielder wants to be­come a reg­u­lar in Stuart Bax­ter’s side and also mar­ket him­self as Li­doda Du­vha boss David Thi­diela has given him the green light to join any PSL club if they get a good deal.

Bax­ter has kept the bulk of the squad that beat Botswana 2-0 away and 1-0 at home in the first round of the qual­i­fiers. The over­all win­ner will be among the 16 teams that will com­pete in the fi­nals sched­uled for Kenya from Jan­uary 11 to Fe­bru­ary 2 next year. Bafana play­ers will as­sem­ble for camp to­day. Nt­shangase said: “It’s al­ways an hon­our for me to rep­re­sent my coun­try. I have been in this sit­u­a­tion [Bafana set-up] be­fore [2015] and I know what to do. I need to grow as a player and what­ever hap­pens af­ter that I will take it as it comes.”

How­ever, Nt­shangase is aware it won’t be easy to over­come Chipolopolo – still reel­ing af­ter los­ing the Cosafa Cup to Zim­babwe, who thrashed them 3-1 in the fi­nal played in Rusten­burg last month.

“I have never seen Zam­bia in ac­tion be­fore. What I know is that they con­sist of lo­cally based play­ers. It won’t be the same like Botswana, but what’s im­por­tant for us is to win the game. We need to re­spect our op­po­nents and en­sure we con­vert the chances we cre­ate.”

Nt­shangase em­pha­sised that Chan pre­sented lo­cally based play­ers with a great op­por­tu­nity to prove their worth as over­seas play­ers were not el­i­gi­ble to play.

“There are a lot of tal­ented play­ers lo­cally who are yearn­ing for this op­por­tu­nity. For us, Chan is a big thing as we will be fly­ing the South African flag high. This is a chance for us who are not in the lime­light to show­case our ta­lent.”

Nt­shangase, who joined the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion side dur­ing the 2011/12 sea­son, praised Thi­diela for sup­port­ing his ca­reer dur­ing his ups and downs.

“Leop­ards is my fam­ily and I al­ways en­sure I rep­re­sent the team in the right way on and off the field. We have missed pro­mo­tion on two oc­ca­sions [2014/15 and 2016/17 sea­son]. Col­lect­ing points early in the sea­son put us in bet­ter stead to gain au­to­matic pro­mo­tion,” he con­cluded.

SA Un­der-20 na­tional coach Thabo Senong, who the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion had an­nounced would be in charge of the squad over the en­coun­ters, told City Press yes­ter­day that that po­si­tion had still not been fi­nalised.

“I am meet­ing with coach Bax­ter on Mon­day [to­mor­row] and we will fi­nalise that,” he said.

He also re­vealed that an up­dated team would be an­nounced to­mor­row as “a num­ber of clubs had with­drawn their play­ers due to the MTN8 matches that start on Fri­day, as well as pre­sea­son train­ing, where new coaches still want to as­sess play­ers”.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

AIM­ING HIGH Siphelele Nt­shangase has de­signs on be­com­ing a per­ma­nent fea­ture in Bafana Bafana

PHOTO: SYD­NEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES

HON­CHOS Coach Stuart Bax­ter of Bafana Bafana with his as­sis­tant Thabo Senong

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