Attacking midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo could be vital in the Soweto club’s revival
There is light at the end of the tunnel for struggling Amakhosi
● Machines. They come in all shapes, form and sizes, but the important thing is what they deliver.
You’ll excuse the Kaizer Chiefs fans for thinking this way when it comes to Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, the pint-sized Amakhosi midfielder who's been the heart and soul of Gavin Hunt’s team that’s been struggling for form in the DStv Premiership this season.
Ngcobo, whose nickname is Mshini (machine) has indeed been a cog in a Chiefs side that has managed to win three successive league matches only once — in total they have five wins in 20 matches.
It’s the kind of form that Chiefs’ supremo Kaizer Motaung couldn’t explain to the Sunday Times this week, especially after the club came so close to winning its first league title in five years last season.
“I must say it is very painful and disappointing that 2020 was supposed to be a celebration for Kaizer Chiefs. We were on the way to celebrate this milestone of 50 years as an establishment,” said the Chiefs boss.
On top of the agony of losing the league title in the fashion that they did, Chiefs were slapped with a season’s ban on signing players by Fifa, but Motaung feels that has actually helped the club find confidence in young players.
And Ngcobo, alongside Happy Mashiane, Reeve Frosler, Siyabonga Ngezane, Njabulo Blom, Lebohang Lesako and Darrel Matsheke, is part of those young guns that Motaung says will be key in reviving the club’s fortunes from next season.
“I must say that going to the next season with players like Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Happy Mashiane — these are quality Chiefs players.
“They actually bring back our history of where we come from and how we groomed players to be future stars.
“We look forward to getting these boys to reach their pinnacle so that we can be able to continue building this brand. I’m very confident that we are on the right track as far as this one is concerned, though it might be argued that if things were normal some of the coaches would not have played these boys. It could be true because the coaches don’t have any options because of the Fifa ban.
“But on the whole, I’m happy with the progress of these boys.”
The 21-year-old Ngcobo has shown glimpses of being a player who can carry Chiefs for many years — if Amakhosi can afford to keep him of course.
Ngcobo’s four league goals were scored in four games in which Chiefs avoided defeat, two of them being wins against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (3-0) and Cape Town City (2-1).
In a season in which Serbian-born striker Samir Nurkovic has struggled to score goals as freely as he did under Ernst Middendorp’s system of using place kicks to score, under Hunt, whose system at Chiefs is yet to become clear, Ngcobo has emerged as the focal point in the team’s attack.
But the inconsistency that Chiefs are showing in the league could see them finishing in the worst position in the PSL — ninth is their lowest to date — if they don’t turn the tables in the last 10 matches.
While Motaung spoke freely on the likes of Ngcobo and the future they present for the club, he was not so committed on club stalwarts like Itumeleng Khune, Eric Mathoho, Bernard Parker, Willard Katsande and Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who are among those whose contracts are ending in June.
“Well, unfortunately I cannot share at this point in time all our plans. We have to keep things under wraps until everything is done and dusted. I cannot reveal our plans but all I can say is that we’re busy making strides in terms of fortifying the team for next season.”
Every week there’s a name that is linked with Chiefs and while players like Sifiso Hlanti of Swallows FC and Phathutshedzo Nange, who scored for Stellenbosch FC against Chiefs this week, are almost certain to join Amakhosi next season, many others are just speculation.
What’s clear is that Ngcobo will lead the charge in Chiefs’ revival when Hunt can add new players into his squad next season.