Ngezana, inspired by Sergio Ramos

Siyabonga Ngezana is Kaizer Chiefs’ 19-year-old defender, who is knocking on the first team door. He was in the Amajita squad that qualified for the Under-20 World Cup.

He’s tall with long legs, which means that he will usually find ways to snatch the ball from under his opponent’s feet. He looks a bit like an octopus when he’s harassing a striker. His nickname is ‘Magwegwe’, which means bow-legged.

Ngezana grew up in eTholeni, a rural town in KwaZulu-Natal, with the closest city being Dundee. His father, Nhlanhla Nkabinde, worked on a farm, owning some cows himself as well.

At the age of four, he joined his mother, Nomachule, to Sebokeng, where she went looking for a job, which she eventually found as a shop’s security guard.

Nine years later, Ngezana joined 3D (the ‘D’ stands for ‘Development’), an amateur side in Pimville, Soweto.

Originally, he was used either as a striker or a defender. “I scored a lot of goals playing up-front,” the Amakhosi youngster reflects on those days.

He joined Orlando Pirates’ development side in 2014, as a striker. However, Ngezana didn’t stay long at the Buccaneers – after suffering an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs’ Under-19s team, a group of players, including ‘Magwegwe’, was asked to leave.

That’s when he went to Senaoane Gunners, an amateur club run by Mike Ntombela.

By that time, Kaizer Chiefs youth development coach Arthur Zwane had already spotted Ngezana: “I saw Siyabonga for the first time during a 3D match at the Nike Centre, Soweto, where we used to train. I immediately saw his potential as a defender.”

Zwane finally tracked him down when playing for Gunners. “We approached the people from Gunners and spoke with his parents. We registered him during the 2014/2015 season, playing in the Promotion League.”

‘Magwegwe’ has played an active and vital role over the last two seasons part in Amakhosi’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge squad, starting this season in nine matches, scoring once.

He was promoted to the first team squad this season, training under the guidance of Steve Komphela. The Chiefs coach was, of course, himself a defender during his playing days. He advised the youngster: “As a centre-back, you can never sleep. The moment you do that, they will punish you. Strikers often only need a split second.”

“Coach Komphela teaches me a lot about the importance of positioning and pushes me to improve my game,” Ngezana says, before adding that Lorenzo Gordinho and Bernard Parker also give him regular advice: “Lorenzo often stresses the importance of being positive, while Bernard, as a striker, gives me tips on how forwards think and react.”

Head of Youth Development, Conti Kubheka, helps the youngster as well. “Before I got accommodation close to Chiefs Village, Conti would usually being me back home, as he stays in the Vaal, like me. He’s a father figure to me, always supplying me with sound advice.”

The talented youngster hopes to complete his matric this year, being now at Altmont High School. It means that he has to balance training sessions with school work.

He also has to contend with being called-up for Amajita. He played at the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in the match for 3rd/4th position against Guinea. South Africa’s Under-20s lost, but the important thing is that they qualified for the U-20 World Cup in South Korea, which will start in May.

Amajita has been drawn in a tough group with Italy, Japan and Uruguay. “I don’t know much about them,” Ngezana admits, “but when we go to camp, the coach will tell us all about our opponents. I know sure that we have the quality and desire to beat them.”

His role model is the tough Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos. About the prospect to play one day for Chiefs’ first team, he says: “I need to continue working hard. Always be on my toes and be ready whenever an opportunity arises to play for the first team.”

Amakhosi’s reserve team coach Zwane, adds: “Siyabonga is going to be a top class defender. He’s very strong in the air. He is destined for greatness.”