A dog fight for playing positions is stifling Robin Ngalandeâ€™s prospect of â€˜debutingâ€™ for South Africaâ€™s BidVest Wits University, four months after his shock Atletico Madrid academy exit.
Wits public relations manager George Mokgotsi confirmed Ngalandeâ€™s struggles for game time to The Nation when asked about his continued absence, even on the bench, in all but Fridayâ€™s match against Maritzburg United.
â€œHe is a player with good physique and speed. He can shoot and he can run, but competition is very tight. He has been training hard as ever and playing in some friendly games, but to make it into the last 18 is a challenge,â€ Mokgotsi said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg.
â€œThere is nothing wrong with him. The coach believes in him, but to select the best XI is tough as football here in South Africa is rising every single day. Everybody likes him, but everyone is fighting for their positions.â€
Flames technical adviser Jack Chamangwana said it was a concern that the national teamâ€™s strikers such as Ngalande are not enjoying decent game time ahead of the October 13 Nations Cup qualifier against Ghana at Civo Stadium.
â€œThat explains why the coach [Kinnah Phiri] has been paying more attention on home-based players who are scoring. It is difficult to perform in a big game if you cannot score with a club. The coach might consider partnering a local striker with one of the foreign-based ones,â€ said Chamangwana.
Once rated as the next Samuel Etoâ€™o, Ngalande opted to terminate his Atletico youth team four-year deal signed in 2010 at K60 million from Sundowns reserves over pay dispute, posting, recently, on his Facebook wall that â€œhappiness was and remains important to me.â€
Recently, Wits midfielder Matthew Pattison predicted a bright future for Ngalande whose arrival on a two-year contract at the Johannesburg side was overshadowed by big-name strikers such as Calvin Kadi, Terror Fanteni and Erwin Isaacs.
â€œI know him from my days at Sundowns and he is a quality player. Robin is a top young player. You can tell that he has learnt a lot during his time at Atletico Madrid and I think he will do very well for Wits,â€ Pattison told www.kickoff.com