Amajita pin Under-20 Afcon hopes on Ngcobo

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of South Africa celebrates goal with teammates during the 2017 COSAFA U20 football match between South Africa and Egypt in Kitwe. (Chris Ricco/BackpagePix)

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of South Africa celebrates goal with teammates during the 2017 COSAFA U20 football match between South Africa and Egypt in Kitwe. (Chris Ricco/BackpagePix)

If his past performances are anything to go by, South African (Amajita) Under-20 midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo could be one of the shining stars at the 2019 Afcon which will be hosted in Niger.

Up in the final third, where opposition defenders are most aggressive and bullish in every tackle made in an attempt to scare off opposing players, Ngcobo has been playing with such great calmness in that area as if he knows the secret of speed and time.

The 2019 Africa Under-20 Afcon will be the 15th edition of this tournament (22nd edition if tournaments without hosts are included).

It is a biennial international youth football tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for players aged 20 and below.

The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland as the Caf representatives.

Ngcobo demonstrated his class and quality on the ball when he was summoned to come on in the 34th minute for injured Promise Mkhuma in their third round second-leg Africa Afcon qualifier, as Amajita beat Malawi on a 2-0 aggregate scoreline.

In that match, Ngcobo showed swaggering confidence on the ball as opposing players struggled to stop him each time he was on the move.

And that’s because Ngcobo played with one motive in his mind – the 18-year old Kaizer Chiefs attacker always saw himself qualifying for his first ever Afcon Under-20 in his young playing career.

“That was the driving in my play in that match,” Ngcobo says. “I wanted to help the team (secure the ticket) to Niger so badly. It will be my first (Afcon) appearance there. I know it won’t be easy to make the final squad for next year, however, I’m willing to put in the work to be counted in.

“I’m planning to use this season’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge to get me sharper than I currently am in my play.

“I want to score more goals and provide plenty of assists for my club, while also being more effective when it’s time for us to drop back and defend in our reserve league matches.

“I believe that doing that will get me ready for next year’s tournament which is just seven months away.”

Despite all the hype before and during a match, the 18-year old from Pietermaritzburg zones out from all of it to remind himself why he was counted worthy to make the team in the first place.

“Ahead of every game,” Ngcobo says. “I quietly remind myself that I’m the best and that there’s no one better than me in the opposition’s camp. That enables me to play my normal game and contribute the best way I possibly can for both club and country.”

“Another driving force is that no one in my family, especially from my dad’s side, ever got to play for a professional side or even represent the nation in any match. Dad and his other three siblings used to play.

“He was a defender during his days, and when we qualified for Afcon he and mom were the first people I told. He was so excited because he knows that I’m doing my very best to lift the Ngcobo family name the best way I can in the game.”

Ngcobo says his ultimate dream is to one day earn a move abroad, and that next year’s Under-20 tournament is the perfect platform to reach that goal.

“This is a strong squad we have at Amajita, and I believe that we have what it takes to qualify for next year’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland,” Ngcobo said.

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