My team­mates

De­fender Vuk­ile Mn­qgibisa re­veals many hid­den se­crets of the AmaZulu dress­ing room as he gives us the lowdown – and the dirt – of all his Usuthu team­mates.


We bring back an old KICK OFF favourite, be­gin­ning with KwaZulu-Na­tal club AmaZulu as de­fender Vuk­ile Mn­qgibisa re­veals the dirt on all his team­mates

En­ergy Mu­ram­badoro

“Gee” is a big guy who loves small cars for the sake of sav­ing petrol. I won­der how long it takes him to drive home in those tiny cars that he drives. He lives on a tight bud­get and doesn’t want to waste a cent. Even the way he dresses tells of a man who doesn’t care a bit about how he looks. He wears any­thing and ev­ery­thing, even clothes from Mr Price. “Gee” loves to swear. The word “mother-f#@ker” comes out of his mouth in ev­ery sen­tence he ut­ters. When he greets you in the morn­ing he swears, when he gives out in­struc­tions he swears. To him we are all “mother-f#@ kers” – us­ing that swear word is now just a part of him by na­ture. He is over­joyed now that his fel­low coun­try­man Ovidy is with us at the club, which al­lows them to speak in their home lan­guage.

Boalefa Pule

The man who uses snuff – you know the snuff usu­ally used by grand­moth­ers? I think he needs to ex­plain to us why he uses snuff. All he ever talks about is his wife and child. For me that is a sign of a man who is gen­uinely in love with his fam­ily. Ev­ery­thing in­volves “my wife this” and “my child that”. I think he is re­ally lonely here in Dur­ban be­cause his fam­ily is in Gaut­eng. He hasn’t been cut­ting his hair of late be­cause he is sav­ing money for his child’s lunch box. Ev­ery cent counts for him.

Siyabonga Mbatha

He is new in the team after join­ing us from Thanda Royal Zulu, but I have al­ready no­ticed that he is friends with ev­ery­one. I think the fact that he is from Dur­ban is why he is al­ready so com­fort­able.

Mpen­dulo Dlamini

Re­spect comes in buck­ets with this guy. He is also very dis­ci­plined. From the way he re­spects ev­ery­one, you can tell he was brought up in a proper fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment with prin­ci­ples. He al­ways makes sure that he greets ev­ery­one ev­ery morn­ing be­fore train­ing. The way that he is so re­spect­ful is ac­tu­ally scary and un­heard of for a foot­ball player, es­pe­cially a goal­keeper. He is known as “De”.

Tapelo Ny­ongo

I have never seen some­one who is so afraid of cats like this

guy. You know us black peo­ple and be­ing su­per­sti­tious: a black cat is seen as bad luck, but to him just the sight of a cat scares the hell out of him. Dur­ing pre-sea­son when we were at a lodge for a pre-sea­son camp, he ran on top of a ta­ble after he saw a cat! I think the trou­ble is that he grew up in the ru­ral ar­eas some­where in the East­ern Cape, so that is why he is so su­per­sti­tious. If l had to lock him up in a flat with a cat and throw away the keys, he would prob­a­bly jump out of the win­dow!

Mbon­geni Gumede

I have heard Pule say­ing “Shoes” [Gumede] has been 20 years old for the past four years, which is why I re­fer to him as a young old man. He is ad­dicted to tat­toos, though most of them don’t make sense to me. His whole body is full of tat­toos. The trou­ble with him is that he is very se­cre­tive.

Phum­lani Gumede

They call him Iwele (twin) be­cause he has a looka­like twin brother Phi­lani who plays for Uthon­gathi FC in the First Di­vi­sion. His twin brother also has a big head like him and also plays in the same po­si­tion. These guys look so alike that they could get away with cheat­ing by hav­ing one play the first-half and the other the sec­ond-half. What is also con­fus­ing is that they are al­ways to­gether, they dress the same way all the time and have sim­i­lar voices. I am told this is ac­tu­ally the first time that they have had to play for dif­fer­ent teams. I pity their girl­friends be­cause these are the kind of guys that can get away with dat­ing the same girl with­out her re­al­is­ing it!

Sa­date Ouro-Ako­riko

He is a Mus­lim and a man true to his re­li­gion. You know those prayers that Mus­lims have at mid­day on Fri­day, he al­ways makes sure that he goes. He re­ally takes his re­li­gion se­ri­ously. The word kw­erek­were (deroga­tory term for for­eigner) has stuck to him like a bee, though he now calls me kw­erek­were when­ever he sees me. Who­ever told him that word started a prob­lem – that is all he ever says to me. He hangs out with Dar­poh and they fre­quent these West African restau­rants to­gether here in Dur­ban.

Them­bela Sikhakhane

He is mis­chievous by na­ture. You know those lit­tle naughty kids who are al­ways in trou­ble be­cause they just en­joy hav­ing fun? That is Sikhakhane for you. One day when we were in camp he ar­rived late for break­fast wear­ing those old school py­ja­mas – a shirt and trousers. Since that day ev­ery­one now un­der­stands why he al­ways asks for an iron when we go into a ho­tel, be­cause he al­ways wants to iron his sleep­wear. He is also known as Hembe (shirt) since that day when he walked in with those py­ja­mas. Sikhakhane is also known as “Rambo” be­cause he wanted to beat up Katlego Mashego dur­ing a pre-sea­son friendly against Chippa United. Be­ing the ru­ral-bred guy he is, Sikhakhane was ready to throw punches right away. Such was the ag­gres­sive look on his face that Mashego ended up com­ing to him after the match to apol­o­gise. Oh, by the way, he is also al­ways at the end of jokes be­lit­tling where he comes from – Ulundi – and the fact that he is the only foot­baller from there to play in the PSL.

Sim­phiwe Mtsweni

Guys that are new usu­ally don’t give away much when they’ve just ar­rived, so it means we must wait. I have no­ticed that he tends to hang out with Ovidy, maybe it is be­cause they know each other from their days at Kaizer Chiefs. I also think they stay in the same area here in Dur­ban be­cause they al­ways travel to­gether in Ovidy’s car. They call him “Starter”.

Te­bogo Mo­er­ane

All I know about this guy is that he is new in the team, stays at the club­house and trav­els in the team bus. It is re­ally dif­fi­cult to get to know much about these kind of guys be­cause you only see them at train­ing. I also know that he is from Lim­popo be­cause he speaks sePedi.

Nkany­iso Zungu

Ever heard of a heavy eater? This is one guy who knows what it means to de­stroy food. He has such a huge ap­petite that I sus­pect he doesn’t just eat for one per­son – I think he eats for three! Such is his crav­ing for food that he even eats at night. When we are in camp he al­ways goes back to the room with an­other plate of food so that he can eat again after a while. Maybe this guy has worms in his stom­ach which take away all the food that he eats. He makes it no se­cret that he hates be­ing hun­gry. He has also come through the club’s de­vel­op­ment. I have heard peo­ple re­fer­ring to him as “Pelembe”.

Boy­sen Mbatha

He has been nick­named “Jomo” be­cause he used to play for Jomo Cos­mos. What I know for sure is that he is short tem­pered – he gets an­gry within sec­onds for any­thing and ev­ery­thing. So when deal­ing with him, be warned that he will get re­ally an­gry and you won’t like it.

But­holezwe Ncube

“Ma­jaivana” doesn’t talk much but loves danc­ing, so that is why he has this nick­name. I think he can eas­ily be­come a dancer when his foot­ball ca­reer ends. Rarely do you find a guy with a body as flex­i­ble as his in foot­ball. Oth­ers call him “Shaker” be­cause he re­ally knows how to shake his body. He also lives such a sim­ple life­style, so much so that all he does is come to train­ing and go home af­ter­wards. Just like me he is also a man of God and is a reg­u­lar church­goer. He goes to a Pen­te­costal church with live

bands, I think it is called Con­ver­sion of Fire.

Lun­gelo Dlamini

“Tsotsi” thinks he is a gang­ster. He al­ways talks about the prison gangs. You know the 26s, the 27s and the 28s. If you lis­ten to how pas­sion­ate he talks about those gangs, you think he may have ac­tu­ally been to prison be­fore. Be­ing from Um­lazi I think he usu­ally hangs with guys that have ac­tu­ally been in prison who tell him about sto­ries to do with all these num­ber gangs. He is from the club’s de­vel­op­ment and the best thing is that he lis­tens and wants to im­prove his game.

Sibu­siso Ma­gaqa

This boy is also part of the group from the club­house that is al­ways to­gether. I call him “Mr Dis­ci­pline” be­cause that is what he is all about. If he is naughty, then he does those things away from us.

Samuel Men­sah Dar­poh

Sam is Ako­riko’s right-hand man be­cause they are both from West Africa. The guy is loud when he talks, but hates noise. I mean you know how loud West Africans are. Just get two of them in the same place and you will get the true def­i­ni­tion of what it means for peo­ple to be ir­ri­tat­ingly loud. Sam is also a young old man who is still a teenager. They are for­ever young in West Africa.

Au­gus­tine Ram­phele

The one who thinks he is a charmer, a ladies’ man. Just why he thinks he is a charmer re­mains a mys­tery be­cause he never comes out with any catch from the op­po­site sex. This guy loves speak­ing English as if he grew up in the sub­urbs, yet he has spent all his life in Tem­bisa. Do you know that he is part of the group of play­ers that took Moroka Swal­lows to its deathbed by get­ting the club rel­e­gated in con­sec­u­tive years? [Laugh­ing] Ap­par­ently he adores a player from an­other lo­cal club here, but un­for­tu­nately I am not al­lowed to men­tion the name. That player is also from Lim­popo and has a sur­name that is al­most sim­i­lar to Au­gus­tine’s.

Ovidy Karuru

[Laugh­ing] This guy has too many nick­names. On some days he is “Mac­a­roni” while on other days he is “Bil­tong”, “Spaghetti” or “Mosquito”. Any­thing that is thin can be Ovidy’s nick­name be­cause that is how he is. He has lit­tle flesh on his body. He looks like a pair of skinny jeans. Strangely, de­spite be­ing so thin, Ovidy has a huge ap­petite. With the way he eats he has hopes of gain­ing weight. He al­ways eats this pap made by some ladies from Zim­babwe in cen­tral Dur­ban. If you eat that pap you will not have an­other meal un­til the next day be­cause it makes you so full. I won­der what they add to that pap. When­ever I feel like sav­ing I al­ways go and eat there be­cause if you eat in the morn­ing then you won’t eat again for the rest of the day. Just how Ovidy never gains weight re­mains a mys­tery to me.

Michael Mor­ton

Our Mlungu is al­ways se­ri­ous about work. He is the kind of guy who comes to work and then heads straight back home im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards all the time. His rou­tine is such that he is pro­grammed. Be­ing a white man, he would never stay at the club­house be­cause there would be a se­ri­ous break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Those guys there have se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tions with the English vo­cab­u­lary. He is one of those foot­ballers who lifts. I have no­ticed that he gets an­gry when you drib­ble him at train­ing. If you drib­ble him he never shies away from com­ing back again and again— you should see how ag­gres­sive he gets! He gen­uinely loves his job and his fam­ily. He looks lonely be­cause I don’t think his fam­ily is with him for now.

S’duduzo Dlamini

This guy calls ev­ery­one “baba wami” (my fa­ther). He doesn’t even need to know your name, he will just call you “baba wami”. Since he is also new in the team, he is yet to ex­pose him­self char­ac­ter wise. All he ever does is stick with JB [Jab­u­lani Ncobeni]. He is like his shadow.

Siyethemba Mn­guni

“Rasta” is re­served … re­ally re­served. I am ac­tu­ally not even sure what kind of rasta he is. Some days they call him “Bob Mar­ley”, while on other days he is Lucky Dube. He says he used to cut his hair, but then thought it bet­ter to keep it to avoid spend­ing money ev­ery time he vis­ited the barber shop.

S’khum­buzo Maz­ibuko

What I know is that he stays at the club­house and hangs with that group of play­ers who al­ways like to stick to­gether. Those play­ers al­ways move as a group and they are so no­tice­able be­cause when they have money they are al­ways at the mall shop­ping for clothes. They al­ways pro­vide ev­i­dence that there is money in the bank. That group is also so noisy, so I al­ways make sure I avoid them when I see them at the mall. They have that high school kids kind of vibe of to­geth­er­ness.

Jab­u­lani Ncobeni

The one thing that I have no­ticed about “Mjeiza” is that he prefers laugh­ing in­stead of talk­ing. He only opens his mouth to laugh. Though “JB” is still new in the team, there is ab­so­lutely no way you will miss his step overs on the field. When he gets the ball he must put a bit of sugar on the ball first be­fore he re­leases it to some­one else. They say he is Jez­i­bel!

Phillip Nd­londlo

Our Lionel Messi! But he is only known as Messi when he has the ball. With­out the ball, he re­verts back to be­ing “Shorty” be­cause he is nowhere to be seen as he is the short­est in the team. He is so short that I have to be on my knees when we have that cir­cle dur­ing prayers. Be­ing as short as he is, he goes to the kids depart­ment when shop­ping for clothes. I think he ac­tu­ally wears size four boots and I have no­ticed that most brands don’t make orig­i­nal boots in those sizes. It is only replica boots, you know the type usu­ally used by kids.

Siyabonga Nomvethe

“Bhele” is the most se­nior cit­i­zen in the team who is for­ever talk­ing about the need for dis­ci­pline be­cause it is his wish for all of us to have ca­reers stretch­ing as long as his. It is al­ways about dis­ci­pline with him, both on and off the field, but then he also wants to laugh at his own jokes. He is also for­ever on the phone talk­ing busi­ness or com­mu­ni­cat­ing with his fam­ily. I think if you take away his phone, he won’t sur­vive a day! But he strangely hates What­sapp with all his life! If you men­tion What­sapp or so­cial me­dia to him, he will make it known to you that he doesn’t do that non­sense, yet he has a smart­phone. I have no­ticed he drives dif­fer­ent cars al­most all the time.

Mab­huti Khenyeza

[Laugh­ing]. “Zaza” is bad news. He talks rub­bish all the time. I have ac­tu­ally never heard him say any­thing that makes sense and ev­ery­one in the team knows that the only time he is se­ri­ous is when he is on the field. I can bet my last cent that he will never re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately if you ever ask him any­thing. Yet the in­ter­est­ing thing is that there is no one in the team who can say they don’t like him. He also likes ev­ery­one the same way be­cause he has no se­crets. To him we are all the same, whether you are from Ghana or Jo­han­nes­burg. He is also the only per­son that I know who is al­ways on­line on What­sapp – I mean all the time. If you spend time with him he will mock you about the fact that you never re­ceive calls on your phone, so much so that you end up send­ing a ‘please call me’ to peo­ple just so that they call you. Once you are on the phone he will lis­ten at­ten­tively, es­pe­cially when you are talk­ing to your girl­friend, and then start laugh­ing at you for be­ing a softie and ro­man­tic. He likes act­ing like he knows ev­ery verse in the bible, yet he knows noth­ing. He is also known as “Bhubesi” (lion) for his fight­ing spirit on the pitch and the way he loves train­ing. Do you know that he does road work from Dur­ban to Pi­eter­mar­itzburg ev­ery morn­ing? He and Bhele are so old school – they don’t mind do­ing road run­ning ev­ery day. I think he is the only player that I know who keeps balls and cones in his car. Do you know that when­ever he finds an open space he just starts train­ing? While pop­ping into his car re­cently I found those huge cast iron pots and big spoons used at wed­dings and fu­ner­als.

Mh­lengi Cele

One thing about this guy is that if he gets a chance, he scores. The way that he is so re­spect­ful proves he was brought up in the ru­ral ar­eas. You won’t be­lieve the way he is so re­spect­ful when he ad­dresses peo­ple. He is a true Zulu man to the core. He calls ev­ery­one “Mcuphi” and that is now his nick­name. I have no­ticed that he al­ways prefers to keep away from any­one that speaks English, and so never gets any­where close to a white man. He al­ways tries by all means to avoid Michael Mor­ton for the sake of avoid­ing speak­ing in English. I won­der what would hap­pen if they shared a room in camp …

Somila Nt­sund­wana

I am sure this dude is nick­named “Balotelli” be­cause he is tall and dark, plus he is a striker. He is new in the team and so hasn’t re­ally come out of his shell as yet. When a player is new they usu­ally first keep to them­selves be­fore even­tu­ally ex­plod­ing after a few months, so I am sure this is what will hap­pen with Balotelli. He must live up to that nick­name both on and off the field. You can’t be Balotelli and have no drama around you.

Rhu­lani Manzini

You should def­i­nitely know why he is re­ferred to as hosi ya mina. Just one look at him and you will know that he is Shangaan. I am sure you know what I mean [laugh­ing]. This guy is al­ways well dressed and thinks he is a clever Shangaan. You don’t even need to ask why he is known as the “Beast”. Two min­utes on the pitch and you will un­der­stand, be­cause he uses his body to good ef­fect and presses de­fend­ers like a ram­pag­ing ele­phant when he marks. As a de­fender you will feel him when you mark him. He is built like a West African and if there is one thing that he en­joys it is tak­ing shots at goal. Though he is new here, I know him well as we played to­gether at Jomo Cos­mos.

Mngqibisa [right] with team­mates, Tapelo Ny­ongo [left] and Ovidy Karuru after a 1-0 league en­counter vic­tory over Free State Stars at King Zwelithini Sta­dium.

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