Nhlakanipho Ntuli focusing on regaining his fitness after being given life-line by Free State Stars
Posted: 9 February 2017 Time: 17:25
New Free State Stars striker Nhlakanipho Ntuli says he's working hard to regain his fitness, having not played competitive football for over a year.
Ntuli came up as a product of Orlando Pirates’ youth academy before leaving to join Dutch side FC Twente as a 17-year-old in 2013 but failed to make a single appearance for the club before being released in January last year.
The Durban-born player afterward trained with National First Division side AmaZulu towards the end of the last season to keep himself fit, before undergoing failed trials at Highlands Park prior to the current campaign.
However, the 20-year-old striker has since found himself permanent residence with Free State Stars, coming in as one of five new January signings, along with Thabang Matuka, Simphiwe Mtsweni, Mohamed Anas and Allan Dorian Nono, and has been hailed by Ea Lia Koto as their marquee signing.
And he says he's delighted to finally be back in the picture, although he didn't feature against Kaizer Chiefs when the season resumed on Tuesday as Serame Letsoaka's side were beaten 3-1.
"Things are getting back to normal. When you haven't played football for some time and you get the break... but what is important is to come back stronger," Ntuli tells KickOff.com.
“It’s good to be back in the game, it makes me eager to start work again and be the same 'Nanana' people know, but it'll take some time due to match fitness and those things.
"But I'm pushing hard to show the fans who've been waiting to see me and I'm still the best."
Speaking of his exit from FC Twente, Nutli explains: "It was all due to changing and chopping things.
"What happened to that side, because in my first season in the reserve league I played almost 32 in 40 games so it was good start for me.
"Then I had a coach who liked me in the first team and he was the one who wanted to take me up.
"But of course it's always difficult in Europe [as a South African] to break through but my name was always on the map, so they changed the coach, they changed everything in the team.
"You cannot stay somewhere and be banned and not growing, because every year in football every season counts so if you not playing, staying with small boys that you found when you came here as 17-year-old and they were playing Under-9 and now playing in the same team, so there was no growth, there was no challenge for me."
Ntuli will be hoping to feature when Ea Lia Koto face log leaders SuperSport United on Wednesday next week at James Motlatsi Stadium.