WATCH | How Doctor Khumalo’s famous No 15 jersey inspired Kaizer Chiefs’ Nkosingiphile Ngcobo
Kaizer Chiefs’ 21-year-old midfield prospect Nkosingiphile Ngcobo has said that playing with Doctor Khumalo’s No 15 jersey in the Caf Champions League has been more inspiration than pressure for him.
Chiefs and Bafana Bafana legend Khumalo’s famous “15" jersey has been retired by the club in domestic football. But in continental soccer‚ where squads are supposed to be numbered from 1 to 30‚ Ngcobo‚ as a mark of the promise he is felt to have by his club‚ wears jersey No 15.
He will wear the jersey again if he gets a run in Saturday’s second leg of Chiefs’ Champions League quarterfinal against Simba SC in Tanzania‚ where Amakhosi will hold a formidable 4-0 lead from Saturday’s home leg at FNB Stadium.
“To be honest this is a motivation – a big one. I don’t take it as pressure but as a motivation‚” the SA Under-20 and U-23 international said.
“Every time I wear that jersey I remember what that jersey means. And‚ ja‚ I just have to make sure that I play my ‘A’ game every day to make sure that I take that number to the next level.”
Reaching the Champions League quarters‚ and travelling the continent playing teams of contrasting styles in strange venues‚ can only have served as a perfect training ground for Chiefs’ young brigade‚ including Ngcobo‚ Njabulo Blom and Darrel Matsheke.
“I think Caf has made me grow individually‚ but also as a team it gave us different challenges. And I think we are managing them‚” Ngcobo said.
“I think we are doing very well‚ and we just need to keep on improving every game.”
Chiefs are expecting a rough reception in Dar es Salaam‚ where Simba are known to employ dirty tricks and gamesmanship.
“When we go there we’ll just go with our plan and make sure that we execute it‚ make sure that we fight‚” Ngcobo said.
“It’s not going to be easy. But I think if we go there with our plan and make sure that we just execute it‚ and we fight and play as a team‚ we’re going to come back with the result.”
South African clubs are still prevented any crowd due to government Covid-19 regulations‚ but Simba will have 10‚000 fans in their 60‚000-capacity Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium.
“That’s another thing‚ but I think that playing for Chiefs we are used to that. It also won’t be a full stadium‚ so I just think it’s going to be an exciting game‚” Ngcobo said.
Chiefs have Dumisani Zuma‚ who limped off in the first leg‚ and Khama Billiat injured.