Bafana Bafana

Ntshangase sets sights on Chan qualifier

Black Leopards star player Siphelele Ntshangase
Black Leopards star player Siphelele Ntshangase

Johannesburg - Siphelele Ntshangase says he will use the 2018 ­African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers against Zambia as a platform to regain his form.

The first leg of the final round will take place at ­Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Saturday at 3pm.

The Black Leopards midfielder wants to become a regular in Stuart Baxter’s side and also market himself as Lidoda Duvha boss David Thidiela has given him the green light to join any PSL club if they get a good deal.

Baxter has kept the bulk of the squad that beat ­Botswana 2-0 away and 1-0 at home in the first round of the qualifiers. The overall winner will be among the 16 teams that will compete in the finals scheduled for Kenya from January 11 to February 2 next year.

Bafana players will assemble for camp today.

Ntshangase said: “It’s always an honour for me to represent my country. I have been in this situation ­[Bafana set-up] before [2015] and I know what to do. I need to grow as a player and whatever happens after that I will take it as it comes.”

However, Ntshangase is aware it won’t be easy to overcome Chipolopolo – still reeling after losing the Cosafa Cup to Zimbabwe, who thrashed them 3-1 in the final played in Rustenburg last month.

“I have never seen Zambia in action before. What I know is that they consist of locally based players. It won’t be the same like Botswana, but what’s important for us is to win the game. We need to respect our opponents and ensure we convert the chances we create.”

Ntshangase emphasised that Chan presented ­locally based players with a great ­opportunity to prove their worth as overseas players were not eligible to play.

“There are a lot of talented players locally who are yearning for this opportunity. For us, Chan is a big thing as we will be flying the South African flag high. This is a chance for us who are not in the limelight to showcase our talent.”

Ntshangase, who joined the National First Division side during the 2011/12 season, praised Thidiela for supporting his career during his ups and downs.

“Leopards is my family and I always ­ensure I represent the team in the right way on and off the field. We have missed promotion on two occasions [2014/15 and 2016/17 season]. ­Collecting points early in the season put us in better stead to gain automatic promotion,” he concluded.

SA Under-20 national coach Thabo Senong, who the SA Football Association had announced would be in charge of the squad over the encounters, told City Press yesterday that that position had still not been finalised.

“I am meeting with coach Baxter on Monday ­[tomorrow] and we will finalise that,” he said.

He also revealed that an updated team would be ­announced tomorrow as “a number of clubs had ­withdrawn their players due to the MTN8 matches that start on Friday, as well as preseason training, where new coaches still want to assess players”.

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