Hi guys. As we promised in this week’s edition of Soccer Laduma, we bring you an extension of Nhlakanipho Ntuli’s interview in the Supporters Club as we speak to Ntuli’s Dutch coach at Jong FC Twente, Jan Zoutman,about the young Bafana Bafana midfielder.
‘Nanana’ has been touted as a potential future leader due to his work ethic and never-say-die attitude, and it seems Zoutman sees the very same qualities in the Orlando Pirates development product. In this Supporters Club mini-interview, he discusses Ntuli’s progress in Holland.
Soccer Laduma: Jan, we thought of giving you a call to hear how Nhlakanipho Ntuli has been doing at Jong FC Twente since commencing his career at the club a couple of months ago.
Jan Zoutman: ‘Nanana’ has got a lot of energy in him and he is working very hard in the training sessions. We gave him some time to adapt to the playing style here. He moved from the South African development, so he got a little bit of a shock probably. He is adapting very well and he is always laughing... always positive. Off the pitch he is always smiling and making fun, but when we have to work, he works very hard and he is playing with a good attitude and flair. Ja, he’s doing well at the moment and in the last few games he played sometimes for 80 or 90 minutes.
SL: Those who’ve worked with him believe he’s a potential future leader. Do you concur with this view?
JZ: Of course, that is possible and he’s a talented player. But he’s still very young, hey, and at Twente we don’t know him to already be the leader in the team, although we have a young team. All the boys – it doesn’t matter if they are 18 or 19 or 20 – they all have to coach and they all have to help each other. Time will tell if he is a leader and when he’s ready for the next step, probably he goes through the same process at Twente. It’s good for him to play at Jong Twente so he can adapt further to the Dutch competition and he can develop in his own tempo. His attitude... he is a leader because he wants to have the ball. He’s asking for the ball and he’s coaching his teammates in defence, but that’s what we expect from every player. I think he can be a leader, but to be a real leader, I think you have to get more experience in football and in the team. Leadership goes with playing a lot. The more experienced you are, the easier it will be to become a leader. I think he has the qualities, but he’s still young and the expectations have to be realistic.
SL: You must be happy that he’s been called up to Bafana Bafana...
JZ: (Cuts in) It’s good for his self-confidence and, ja... he has to learn there. He has to train with his eyes and have his ears wide open so he can learn from the more experienced players and the older guys. I think it’s very good for him. Development speeds up when you play at that level and I’m happy for him.
SL: So how long before we see him in the first team?
JZ: Ha, ha, ha, it’s really hard to say at the moment because in the FC Twente first team we have some good quality players. But when players develop themselves, it can go fast sometimes. I think it isn’t good for the expectations to say he will need six months or one year. It’s not easy to tell that, but when he develops further, then you never know. For him it’s a realistic aim to play in the first team, but as for when it will happen, it depends on his own development. He’s making progress and we will see how things go. We must not forget that FC Twente has some really good midfield players... internationals and youth internationals from all over.
JZ: You’ve got Kamohelo Mokotjo playing in midfield and then two guys playing for the Dutch national team. So, ja, there is competition and he has to work hard to be a competitive player for FC Twente. He is making progress and, at the moment, that’s the most important thing. He is developing and he knows now how to play at FC Twente. Maybe in a few months we can say a little more about that, but I don’t expect him to play in the first team in one or two weeks. It will probably take a little longer.
SL: Thank you very much for taking the time to chat to us about this exciting talent. God bless!
JZ: You are welcome. All the best!
We hope you guys enjoyed the insight into Nanana’s progress so far at Twente as the Pirates development product works his way into the senior team and also making a name for himself in Shakes Mashaba’s team. We hope to hear from you.