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Amakhosi’s new dawn

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The 20-year-old is part of a group of players who reminded Amakhosi about the talent in their structures.

New talent: Siyabonga Ngezana of Kaizer Chiefs is just one of a new breed of player who are making their way up through the development structures and into the first team.

KAIZER CHIEFS’ young centreback Siyabonga Ngezana is inspired to succeed more by the players who will come after him than by legends, such as Neil Tovey and Lucas Radebe, who came before him.

The 20-year-old is part of a group of players who reminded Amakhosi about the talent in their structures; talent which was ignored for a long time with the club opting to bring in ready-made talent due to the pressure that comes with playing for Chiefs. That won’t be the case any more after Ngezana, Wiseman Meyiwa (19) and Bruce Bvuma (22) were promoted through the club’s development structures and held their own in the first team, something that hadn’t happened in a long time.

Ngezana has missed just one match since making his debut against Mamelodi Sundowns in October. He scored in that match and went on to be a consistent feature in defence while Lorenzo Gordinho and Mulomowandau Mathoho struggled for game time.

“Us being in the first team and doing well motivates young players to work even harder because there is an example of someone who was where they are and is now where they would like to be,” Ngezana said. “Doors are always open in the first team.

“But it makes your job a lot easier to get there and do well if you have a reference point, that ‘look at him, he was here with us and now he is playing regularly for the first team’.

“What also helps us is that we’re getting a lot of exposure from the MDC (MultiChoice Diski Challenge). There are a lot of people watching. I want to inspire and give hope to the other players in the development structures by showing them they can also make it.”

Ngezana got his big break in Soweto at Orlando Pirates juniors before moving to Senaoane Gunners, which counts Thulani Serero and Thulani Hlatshwayo among its graduates. Four years ago Ngezana went on a trial that changed his life, pushed by his family, who thought he would make the cut at Chiefs.

He did and grew in the club’s structures to the point he was an integral part of their reserve team and was part of the squad that helped the national Under-20 team qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2009.

“Representing my country was a good experience. It’s one of the things that pushed me to get promoted to the first team quickly. It helped me to step into the first team ready because I already had international experience and knew what it took to play at the highest level,” Ngezana said.

The 20-year-old’s performance in Chiefs’ gold and black was one of a few highlights for Amakhosi who continue their barren run under coach Steve Komphela.

But while the club has no titles under the former Chiefs’ captain, his improvisation skills have changed the club’s make-up. Injuries to key players in defence saw Philani Zulu step up to the challenge while Joseph Molangoane showed what a quality wingback he is.

Ngezana’s is the most heart-warming story, a youngster stepping into a high pressured situation and showing that the future looks bright.

“The senior players always encourage us,” Ngezana said. “They support me and make me push harder because they say I am the future, the one who’ll take over from them.”