With his comments during the recent DStv Compact Cup, Kaizer Chiefs defender Njabulo Ngcobo raised eyebrows by suggesting that he was disappointed with his role at the club after joining them at the start of the season.
Following his transfer from Swallows FC, the Bafana Bafana international has been largely played in a midfield role by Amakhosi boss Stuart Baxter, and he admitted that he appreciated the opportunity to return to his preferred position during the Compact Cup.
"Those two games were particularly memorable for me," Ngcobo recalled. "I haven't had much opportunity to play as a defender this season, so it was crucial for me to get some minutes in that position." "Over the course of the two games, I played well, but there is still potential for development in my game."
When Baxter spoke to reporters following Chiefs' 1-0 Nedbank Cup Round of 32 loss to TS Galaxy on Saturday, he was asked whether he would be interested in reverting to a defensive role upon his return. The 27-year-old had suffered major burns previous to the game and was unable to play.
"Ngcobo has some of the most severe burns I've ever seen on a player," says the referee. "He hasn't been in training for a while, and he wasn't selected, and he won't be for a long time," the 68-year-old remarked of his former teammate.
Although he prefers to play at centre-back, he will do so if he is the finest centre-back we have at our disposal. It seems to me that if he is not the greatest centre-back we have and I move him to the center of midfield, he will express an interest in playing wherever he is asked to play. In other words, that's the signal he's given me.
"I'm sure his preferred position is centre-back, but he needs to convince us that he is the best centre-back for the job."
The fact that he's had a few injuries and has been up and down means that it hasn't been easy for him. It's also his first season at a club like Kaizer Chiefs, so I'm not hurrying him." For the time being, I'm going to attempt to analyze him over a longer length of time.
The fact that he has a 12-inch burn on his back that has peeled the flesh off of him and makes it difficult for him to work would be beneficial in that evaluation. It would assist him in demonstrating to me during training that he is deserving of that position after he gets over it."
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