Tso and Shakes take the lead at Notwane FC football revolution

2013-11-10 14:00

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The Botswana club is aiming to raise its profile

Forgotten former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielders Manqoba “Shakes” Ngwenya and Benedict “Tso” Vilakazi are proving to be big hits at Notwane FC in the Botswana Premier League.

Ngwenya has been named Player of the Month for October by Botswana magazine Play On, while Vilakazi is captain of the team.

The pair dismissed any perceptions that their move was borne out of desperation, given the low rating of the professional league in the landlocked country.

They also refused to be drawn into media reports emanating from Botswana that they were owed three months’ payment.

The former Bafana Bafana players told City Press from their adopted home that they were lured to help raise the profile of the Gaborone-based club in a country where the majority of clubs are owned by sporting societies.

“The chairman [Gift Mogapi] personally called me to be part of the restructuring of the club and I bought into his vision,” said 32-year-old Ngwenya, who signed a two-year contract in August, a month after Vilakazi’s arrival at the club, which is regarded as the sleeping giant of Botswana football.

Mogapi acquired a majority shareholding in the club in July through his GMG Global Investments. The move was hailed as another step towards the steady commercialisation of football in Botswana.

Notwane was almost relegated last season and only survived after the Police XI and Security Systems clubs were deregistered after they failed to meet the league’s subscription deadline.

“The bigger picture was beyond our playing.

“We were brought in to help market the club and guide the youngsters.

“We attract good crowds at our training sessions and home games. People have embraced us here and the standard of football is not bad at all.

“There is a lot of potential. Pity I’m struggling to converse in Setswana, compared to Tso,” said Ngwenya.

He broke into the professional ranks with Bidvest Wits in the 1999/2000 season but was never really utilised, which was surprising given his talent.

“With my talent, I didn’t achieve much and saying I was unlucky would be an understatement. Sitting idle at Sundowns, coupled with injuries, didn’t help my career. I would have quit the game a long time ago but I knew I was too gifted to give up so easily.”

In contrast, Vilakazi was a good footballer but hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons off the field.

“I didn’t see any point in playing at home any more because of the politics in the game,” said Vilakazi.

“There were a lot of stories about my ill-discipline but my side of the story was never really heard. Go ask the people in Swaziland or here in Botswana and they will tell you what kind of a person I am.”

The former Orlando Pirates midfielder had a spell with Malanti Chiefs in Swaziland last season.

The 31-year-old said he had no regrets and instead pointed to the statistics and achievements to sum up a career that took off with the Buccaneers in 1999.

Vilakazi scored 58 goals in 193 appearances for Pirates.

He and Ngwenya were recently joined in Botswana by former SA Development Team coach Simon Ngomane, who is the club’s technical adviser.

Botswana Premier League at a glance

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