Absa Premiership

Ex-Arrows coach pays tribute to Mngwengwe: 'I liked his tenacity'

2020-05-21 10:22
Nkanyiso Mngwengwe
Nkanyiso Mngwengwe (Gallo Images)

Manqoba Mngqithi, who gave the late Lamontville Golden Arrows captain Nkanyiso Mngwengwe his first shot at the big time, paid a glowing tribute to the defender, who died in his home last Monday.

Mngwengwe, 30, suffered heart failure in the wee hours of Monday morning at his Pietermaritzburg home. His brother and wife rushed him to hospital after he broke into a shaking fit around 02:00 but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The defender, whose recent Premier Soccer League (PSL) season was curtailed by injury, drew wide-spread praise, most notably from current Arrows coaches Steve Komphela, Shaun Bartlett and the man who discovered him playing at then SAB League amateur outfit Umgeni City Movers FC, Mngqithi.

"I was devastated when I heard the news, I don't want to lie," said Mngqithi.

"This boy was one of the best players I worked with in terms of having a good personality. It really hit hard on me because he was one of those players I never had any issues with while I was coaching him.

"I believed that by now he would have been an even better player than what he was but unfortunately injuries made his career very difficult.

"He was a very professional player and I don't think he even drank alcohol. He was one of those rare players. I never expected anything close to this."

During his second incarnation with Abafana Bes'thende in 2013, Mangqithi purged the club he once led to the MTN8 title and got rid of former coach Muhsin Ertugral's mediocre imports such as Pavels Steinbors and Ritus Krjauklis.

In came 11 new signings, most of whom the mainstream press had never heard of before, featuring names from lower divisions such as Mngwengwe, Peter Wadabwa, Nkanyiso Cele and Siphelele Hleleni.

Mngwengwe, then 23, was unassuming, shy and grabbed not one headline. But he would outlast most of his fellow recruits and plenty that came after him.

Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Mngqithi, a man with a cunning eye for raw talent, knew he had acquired the kind of centre back that was built to last - even if he wouldn't coach Arrows for too long after that.

"I liked his tenacity in defence," he said.

"He had very good focus in one-versus-one [confrontations] defensively. He was a good defence organiser and he was very strong aerially but more than anything I saw a good boy that could one day lead Golden Arrows and be the captain of the club.

"I remember very well when people were questioning this idea of bringing in players from the SAB League straight to PSL and people were very uncomfortable. But fortunately, (club owner) Mato (Madlala) believed that when I saw something in a player, I was usually right. She supported me in that regard."

Mngwengwe will be laid to rest on Sunday.


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