Dear Siphelele Leonard Ntshangase. This is an open letter from a fan and a big brother who believes you’ve not lived up to expectations and that you’re not anywhere near your true potential so far at Kaizer Chiefs.
You see, Stash, it is almost three years now since you joined the Naturena-based club amid fanfare but, truth be told, there’s very little to write home about your stay at the club so far. That said, it was so refreshing to see you again in action against Orlando Pirates this past Sunday and it was even better to see you spraying those passes and trying to dictate terms in the midfield for Amakhosi. While you were still plying your trade at Black Leopards and Baroka FC, almost everyone agreed that you were the missing link in the Amakhosi set-up and, considering your style of play and the club’s history, it looked to be a match made in heaven! January 2018 was one of the happiest moments for Chiefs supporters as the club finally managed to secure your services, after so much pressure from the supporters. Fast-forward to 2020, and in all honesty, the Siphelele Ntshangase that we saw at Leopards and Baroka is definitely not the Siphelele Ntshangase that was signed by Chiefs, so far!
You’ve been under four different coaches at Chiefs. It all started with coach Steve Komphela, Giovanni Solinas, Ernst Middendorp and now Gavin Hunt. I’m sure you’ll be the first to admit that under all four coaches, no one can argue with the fact that you’ve not been anywhere near your true potential as a professional footballer. A lot of people saw you as the modern version of Thabo Mooki in that Chiefs midfield and some were even starting to compare you to the great Doctor Khumalo because of their belief in your quality and ability. Sadly, Stash, you’ve not lived up to the bill! You’ve not been able to command a regular berth in the team and this begs a lot of questions. With the famous jersey number 10 on your back, there could never be a better signal of what the club had expected when they signed you. To this day, they’ve not got a return on their investment, Stash. The passionate supporters who looked to you to help revive this sleeping giant are disappointed, to say the least. They expected so much from you and that prestigious jersey number is not meant for the bench or even the stands. It is for a match winner, someone who will impose themselves on the opposition and get the team going.
At a big club like Kaizer Chiefs, the jersey doesn’t come cheap and number 10 is an exclusive number that doesn’t get given to anyone. It is earned and what has Siphelele Ntshangase really done for Chiefs to deserve that prestigious jersey, since joining them? Not much, I dare say! When coach Middendorp left and Hunt came in, I was one of those who believed that this was going to be Stash’s season, especially with Chiefs precluded from venturing into the transfer market. I thought there was a new lease on life for you, Stash, but the fact that even Hunt hasn’t made you a regular feature in his team – all things considered – says a lot. That under trying circumstances, coach Hunt would rather look at development products like Nkosingiphile Ngcobo than an established and experienced campaigner like yourself, who was seen as a missing link at Chiefs, leaves a lot to be desired. It is a statement on its own and certainly not a good one! Yes, there were injuries here and there, but you’re free from injuries now. Surely your name should be one of the first in the coach’s starting line-up. You should be one of the leading figures in the team, but that’s not happening. Aren’t you embarrassed by the current state of affairs? Aren’t you feeling insulted? What’s going on? Why are you not playing regularly, bro? Surely it is time for some introspection because you can’t have four different coaches not showing enough confidence in you, whether injured or not. We can’t say they were not being fair to you. Surely that can’t be true.
Once again, I say it is time for some introspection because this is unacceptable, Stash! You see, as football supporters, I believe the time is now for us to hold you guys accountable. Gone are the days where we will blame coaches for not giving players enough chance. You make your own chance and it is not given on a silver platter but earned. There’s a difference between being given and earning something. The truth is, no coach will keep a deserving player on the bench or even in the stands. It doesn’t matter what the coach thinks of you, he will never keep you on the bench or in the stands when he feels you genuinely deserve a chance. Do you know why? Because his job depends on you, if you are as good and dedicated as we – football supporters – think, then there’s no way he’s going to shoot himself in the foot by keeping you out of the team to spite you. It will never happen. At the end of the day, regardless of what the coach thinks of you, his future depends on the results. No coach in the whole world would keep someone, who can help him save his job, on the bench when they should be on the field of play. As supporters, we need to demand more from you guys.
As a senior player, when you see Ngcobo playing ahead of you – for instance – you should feel ashamed and insulted at the same time. You don’t get jealous or start sulking, you double your effort and send a strong message that you also deserve to be noticed. Ngcobo is a good up-and-coming player, he’s potential and future while you’re quality and experience. You can’t replace quality and experience with potential, but you can always go to potential when experience and quality doesn’t deliver. We only see what happens in the 90 minutes on the field, while the coach works with you every day, so we have to respect their decisions. The season is still fairly new and one hopes that your fortunes at Naturena will change soon. If there was one season everyone expected you to stand up and be counted, this is it! Stash, you can’t be a squad player in the current Chiefs team. If you accept the situation as it is, then it means something is wrong with you.
This comes from a very good place and I hope you understand that. Kaizer Chiefs and South African football need you because you are one of the players who represent what our football is all about. A lot of people are disappointed with the way things have turned out for you, so far. They vouched for you and the club obliged. What have you done for them?