“You have to go into match-day with the coach’s advice, and then add your own style into the mix.”
Amajita’s successful Cosafa cup tournament has given midfielder Nkosingiphile “Mshini” Ngcobo a sense of belief that they will have what it takes to compete in the Africa Youth Championships in Niger from February 2-17.
Late last year, in Zambia, Amajita defended their regional championship title when they dominated their four matches. They won three and drew the final, which they won on penalties.
Ditto for their performances. They were the big winners during the prize-giving ceremony. Promise Mkhuma bagged the Player of the Tournament award, while Lyle Foster was the joint top goal scorer with Zimbabwean Delic Murimba – the duo scored five goals apiece.
“I think the team has gelled well together since the Cosafa tournament,” Ngcobo said yesterday. “We did well in the tournament and the preparations for the Afcon have been going well as well. I think we have what it takes to go there and prove to people what we are made of.”
Ngcobo is aware that Cosafa and Afcon are different propositions. Winning the Cosafa was recognition for being the kings of football in the southern region. Doing well in the Afcon portrays a bigger picture. One would be destined for continental recognition. That can be capped by a World Cup spot if the team finishes among the top four.
“We used the Cosafa as our preparations for the Afcon, because we knew that it’s our only way to qualify for the World Cup,” Ngcobo said. “I think we’ve now switched on and are focused (on Afcon preparations), and we’ll be ready to go there and work.”
Ngcobo has been a man for big occasions. In Ndola, he inspired his team to a 1-0 win over Angola in the semi-finals. However, with coach Thabo Senong having assembled a provisional 34-man squad, the Pietermaritzburg-born player knows that he has to put in double the effort to make the final squad that will represent the country in West Africa in two weeks’ time.
“I think working hard, and taking all the instructions from the coach will be important in making sure I make the team,” Ngcobo said. “You have to go into match-day with the coach’s advice, and then add your own style into the mix.”
Recently, Ngcobo’s hard work at club level has been rewarded by Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp. After the Cosafa, he was part of the senior team that travelled to Madagascar to face Elgeco Plus in the return leg of the Caf Confederation Cup group stage qualifiers. Although he didn’t feature there, he transferred that experience to the reserves where he scored a brace and registered an assist when they hammered Baroka FC 4-1 at Sisa Dukashe Stadium last weekend.
“It’s huge encouragement to play for a team such as Kaizer Chiefs because the environment is very conducive,” Ngcobo said. “When we were demoted back to the reserve league by then coach Giovanni Solinas, I didn’t take that badly. I just went back and continued to work hard.”
Amajita are in Group A alongside hosts Niger, Burundi and Nigeria.