Thursday, June 20, 2024

Mogopodi praises ‘super-sub’ Ngele

Since Saturday night, the name of Platinum Stars’ attacking midfielder Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele has been on the lips of football fanatics in Botswana.

On the social networks, fans mentioned how proud they were of the Zebras’ international. This follows his star performance after coming on as a second half substitute and leading Stars to a hard fought 2-1 win over Orlando Pirates in the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup played at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Ngele, surprisingly omitted from the starting line-up by head coach Allan Freese, replaced Issa Sarr in the 66th minute of the pulsating final. At that point, Pirates seemed to be in control of the match having taken the lead through captain Lucky Lekgwathi in the 30th minute.

When Ngele was brought on, lots of Batswana across the country got excited that their country was once again represented in a high-profile encounter in the neighbouring country.

It did not take long before Ngele broke the hearts of Pirates’ fans when he slotted home the equaliser in the 78th minute.
The former Township Rollers’ star shrugged off a challenge from defender Rooi Mahamutsa before chipping the ball over advancing goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

With the clock ticking away, it was game on and both sides pushed forward for the killer, but it was Stars who were rewarded when Ngele scored the winner with a sublime finish from outside the box in the 88th minute.

The goal drew wild celebrations around the Mbombela Stadium but coach Freese said he wanted his troops to remain cool in order to wrap up the finale.

When the referee blew the final whistle, Ngele went down on his knees and raised his head in thanksgiving. It was probably his best moment in the Stars’ jersey since he joined the Rustenburg-based club from Rollers at the beginning of the 2012/13 Premier League season.

Ngele said ahead of the final that no one had given them a chance to beat Pirates as they went into the game as underdogs. He pointed out that Pirates went into the game under pressure, having lost two finals in the build-up to the Saturday’s clash.

Bucs were beaten by Egyptian side Al-Ahly in the Caf Champions League final and by the same Stars’ side in the MTN 8 Cup final earlier in the season.

Though most of the people wondered why Ngele was left on the bench on the day, he said that he was not worried.

“It didn’t feel bad sitting on the bench because as a player you must expect such things to happen. I was reading the match from the bench and I realized that Pirates were tired,” said Ngele.

His former coach at Uniao Flamengo Santos, George Mogopodi, said he was elated at seeing Ngele grabbing the headlines.

“I was not surprised at seeing him score a brace in the final. He has scored better goals than that before but the difference here is the stage (final in South Africa against African powerhouse Orlando Pirates.) I know he has the right attitude to make a name for himself in South Africa,” said Mogopodi. He pointed out that he is worried at the way Ngele is used at Dikwena because he deserves to play the entire game.

“Sometimes when I watch him (Ngele) performing like he did on Saturday, I tend to get emotional. I wonder if people (other clubs) would have given Santos a chance to develop more players like Tsotso we could be singing a different song. The problem is that Batswana are more interested in destroying rather than building,” said the coach.

Mogopodi started coaching Ngele when he was eight alongside his brother Godfrey, Thato Bolweleng and Bakang Meno at White City in Gaborone. He continued coaching him at Santos before Tsotso joined Rollers two years ago.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper