ngwenya resolute

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Getting his place back in Mamelodi Sundowns' starting 11 will require a herculean effort from midfielder Manqoba Ngwenya.

But as "Shakes" recovers from yet another demoralising injury, he is bitter that during some of the best spells of his career - when he could have staked his claim at club level and even challenged for a spot in Bafana Bafana - those in charge didn't afford him the opportunity to do that.

The start of the current season is a case in point. Having scored three goals in four matches in pre-season tournaments, Ngwenya still found himself out of the team in the MTN Top 8 final against Kaizer Chiefs on September 20 .

He also played in Downs' first match against Bloemfontein Celtic but was dropped soon after that game before sustaining his current injury at training.

Former Bafana Bafana coach Trott Moloto was in charge then.

"I often feel like at Sundowns - when I was performing at my best - I was not given a chance to shine, build my confidence and cement my place in the team like the other players. I felt like, what do I have to do to be given a chance?" Ngwenya said.

It has been excruciating to watch one of the classiest left footers - blessed with an imposing physique rare among local players - twiddling his thumbs at Downs while the country clearly needs players of his calibre.

The injuries have not let up, though some have boldly stated that he needs to leave Chloorkop if he still wants to play football.

He now has to overcome the mystery hip problem that has kept him out for 13 weeks while awaiting a conclusive diagnoses by the end of January.

Meanwhile, frustration is the order of the day and the opportunity to impress new manager Henri Michel could be passing him by.

"Michel is giving everyone a run and he seems to like ball players like me. A pity I cannot be there," he said.

Far from being self-pitying, Ngwenya feels this era at Downs might just be his time.

"I am working as hard as I can to get Shakes back. My dreams as a footballer are still out there for me to reach for," said Ngwenya who played 41 matches out of a possible 134 league games since the 2003-2004 season.