“Eish‚ Free State Stars are something else," says Wits' Ntshangase ahead of showdown with hoodoo team
Phumlani Ntshangase doesn’t know why he and Ben Motshwari were suddenly dropped at the start of this campaign after forming a solid central midfield pairing for Bidvest Wits last season.
But instead of sulking‚ the pair used that snub as motivation to fight for their places in the starting XI.
Upon their return‚ they proved their worth.
Mothswari scored in the 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns and Ntshangase did the same against Maritzburg United.
Those wins helped the Cleve Boys sit at the summit of the Absa Premiership‚ three points ahead of the Brazilians with three games to go.
“Being dropped just like that was a big problem for us‚” Ntshangase said.
“We don’t know what happened.
"The coach (Gavin Hunt) can answer that question.
"I told the management‚ when I wasn’t playing and when I was injured‚ that I will always fight for this team no matter what.
"This team is everything to me.
"I and Ben have been here since this team started fighting for the title.
"There have been ups and downs‚ new players coming in and us (Ntshangase and Motshwari) going out.
"We told everyone that this is football. These things happen.
"Players come in‚ they take your place‚ they play and do better than you.
"You must work harder to return to your place.
"That’s what we did. That’s why the coach brought us back and I am happy that the team is winning.”
Wits have lost just one game in six outings since Ntshangase started playing consistently in April‚ keeping five clean sheets.
If Wits keep winning‚ then they will be crowned South African champions for the first time in the club’s history.
But it won’t be easy‚ especially on Wednesday night in Goble Park against their hoodoo team Free State Stars.
Ea Lla Koto have perfected the art of tormenting the Clever Boys‚ more so in Bethlehem.
“Eish"‚ Ntshangase said‚ “Free State Stars are something else.
"We will have to fight and grind to get the three points.
"The pitch will be dry (like ours in the win over Maritzburd).
"We were complaining that they (Bidvest Stadium grounds men) should water the pitch when we are playing at 3pm.
"The pitch was dry and it was hard to control the ball.
"The positive is that these conditions prepared us well for what to expect in Bethlehem.”
At 22‚ Ntshangase is something of a veteran in the Wits setup as one of the longest serving members.
This is the closest Wits have been to winning the league title in the seven years he has been at the club.
“We have been in a similar situation in the past and we let it slip late‚” Ntshangase said.
“We won’t repeat that mistake again.
"We know this race now.
"It boils down to concentration.
"We know that it won’t be easy.
"The togetherness is helping us get through this phase.” - TMG Digital/TMG Sport