Bombarded with questions about defender Njabulo Ngcobo at his press conference on Thursday, coach Stuart Baxter also explained the absence so far this season of one of Kaizer Chiefs’ young bright talents.
Nkosingiphile Ngcobo has been a casualty of Amakhosi’s transfer ban being lifted after his breakthrough came when the club was forced to rely on players coming from their development ranks under Gavin Hunt.
The 21-year-old made an incredible 40 appearances in all domestic and continental competitions and earned praise – but Baxter, who took over from Hunt, has hardly used him.
“If I was a fan, those would be the same questions I am asking the coach. But all I can say is that Mshini has been doing really well the last two weeks,” the coach told journalists.
You can understand why the Englishman was being quizzed about the midfielder, a player many thought was clearly the bright spark in a dire situation where Chiefs could not register new faces during the 2020/21 campaign because of the FIFA sanction.
Baxter has preferred Alexander Cole and Phathutshedzo Nange in his two-man midfield, both new arrivals at Chiefs this season.
However, the coach was quick to point out that Ngcobo was again knocking on the door for selection and will soon be considered.
“He went through a little period of being flat, not playing with the right intensity and not playing with the right desire,” explained Baxter.
“Even if you are a talented lad that doesn’t get you a place in the team. Now he is really starting to fire and he is putting pressure on the players that are ahead of him at the moment. I am really pleased with the way he is working.”
For Ngcobo and Happy Mashiane, another young player who grabbed his opportunity last season, to play regularly, perhaps Chiefs don’t need to rush into the transfer market in January as that would limit their chances.
“He doesn’t get more game-time when more players arrive at the club and Happy (Mashiane) is the same, you know. These are two talented players that I want to get into the mix, but the more players come in the more doors close,” he said when responding to a question on whether the club would sign a striker when the window reopens.
Story by @superjourno
Check out Chiefs' youth ranks over the years...