A day after being named South African Absa Premiership Player of Quarter 4, Flames midfield star Robert ‘Baggio’ Ng’ambi has been short-listed for the Footballer of the Season Award.
Ng’ambi, whose sheer quality shone like a beacon for Platinum Stars this season, will vie for the prestigious award alongside teammate Thuso Phala and Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
The PSL gala awards are slated for Sunday in Johannesburg.
Should he win the award, Ng’ambi stands to pocket R200 000 [about K8 million].
However, as usual, Ng’ambi played down the monetary value of the award, insisting that what is important is the recognition.
“It would be a bonus if I would be the winner, but to be among the top three short-listed for the top award is, in its own, a big honour considering that there are 400 players in the PSL and everyone gives out his best.
“Being the only foreigner that has been short-listed for the award, it feels great, but as I said, I will not take it easy. Instead, the recognition will motivate me to work even harder,” said Ng’ambi in a telephone interview from Rusternburg.
He dedicated the recognition to Malawians, his teammates and Platinum Stars coaching panel.
“I received encouragement from a lot of fellow Malawians, the media and the team spirit at Platinum was just fantastic,” said Ng’ambi.
Ng’ambi scored seven league goals, six short of the Golden Boot awardee Katlego Mashego of Moroka Swallows. He was named man-of-the-match in six league and cup games.
Should he clinch the award, the 27-year-old midfielder will become the second Malawian to win it after celebrated former Flames midfield stalwart Ernest Mtawali who won it in 1985 while starring for Bloemfontein Celtic.
Mtawali, who was the first foreigner to win the award, yesterday waxed lyrical of Ng’ambi’s feat.
“As I said, Rob [Ng’ambi] has had a fantastic season and making it among the three short-listed players, is in itself, a big achievement.
“He has done extremely well for Dikwena [Platinum] and played a significant role to ensure a second-place finish just a point shy of the champions [Kaizer Chiefs],” said Mtawali who is Flames assistant coach.
But Mtawali also said he expected another Malawian, blossoming defender Limbikani ‘Pupa’ Mzava to be short-listed for the Young Player of the Season Award.
Mzava was this week named Celtic’s Young Player of the Season.