Thela Ngobeni confident of getting playing time with Free State Stars
Posted: 4 February 2018 Time: 08:00
Goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni is optimistic he will get a look-in at his new club Free State Stars after failing to play a game for Mamelodi Sundowns in the first half of the season.
The 28-year-old recently returned to Ea Lla Koto on another loan deal that will expire at the end of the campaign, having had a productive spell with the club last term.
Ngobeni was up against it at Chloorkop as Pitso Mosimane has Denis Onyango, Brimah Razak and Kennedy Mwene at his disposal in goal. He now primarily faces competition for game-time from Ivorian keeper Badra Ali Sangare.
"I'm happy with the move," Ngobeni tells KickOff.com.
"I mean, I was not playing at Sundowns for the last six months because they have three international goalkeepers there. So it was tough for me. I'm happy that I'm back at Free State Stars so I can try push the keepers that are here. It's a six-months loan deal at the moment, we'll see when the season finishes how it goes. Anything is possible to be honest.
“A change of environment is important for a player. I mean at Sundowns it was clear that my chances of playing were slim, so maybe here I can try to push myself as it's a different environment compared to Sundowns. Obviously it won't be easy, the keeper Ali Sangare has been doing well also but I welcome the challenge. But if I didn't want to be in this position I wouldn't have come here. I am happy that I will start fighting for the position and I will see what happens as time goes on."
The Kaizer Chiefs development product says he chose Stars over other teams that were interested in his services because the club is fighting for a top-eight spot and not against relegation.
"The fact that Free State Stars are doing well this season and they are fighting for the top eight played a role in my choice. For me it's important to be in that space. Last season we were fighting relegation so I wanted to come and also be part of that team that's gonna fight for the top eight, which is something that is a totally different vision from last season where we fought relegation.
"Free State Stars has always been in contact with me, motivating me saying, ‘You know what, we are looking at bringing you to add in our keepers' department’. And we even played a friendly against them in December and Luc [Stars head coach Eymael] told me that he would like me to come to Free State Stars to push the other goalkeepers here."
Though things look rosy for Ngobeni at the moment, he might go back to the frustrating situation of being a fourth-choice keeper at Sundowns at the end of his loan deal in June.
But the talented shot-stopper says he will cross that bridge when he gets there.
"Look, I cannot write off anything you see. To be honest Sundowns is my team and they've given me an opportunity to be part of their team. And it has been good obviously in terms of the environment and the guys there. But the main thing is to play, but we'll see when the season ends what's on the table for me and what the future holds, whether it's at Sundowns or at another team or if it will be still Free State Stars.
“I will obviously look into those options and see what's best for me. My contract with them is left with one season which is the 2018/2019 season."