Growing up in the rural Free State, Thandani Ntshumayelo idolised Benedict Vilakazi, these days however, the SuperSport United playmaker writes his own headlines.
|Thandani Ntshumayelo © Gallo Images
For a young man small in physical stature, Ntshumayelo rarely lets larger opponents get the better of him, thanks to his tenacious attitude, clever football brain and sound technique, which enables him to buy a yard or two before picking out a telling ball to a team-mate.
He has impressed immensely over the last few years with his vision and creativity. And alongside fellow midfielders such as Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Kulegani Madondo, Ntshumayelo has shown that size at times is immaterial. His game epitomise that of amny South African central midfielders who compensate for their lack of physical built with finesse and sound tactical awareness.
Ntshumayelo could well have ended up playing for Free State Stars or even Bloemfontein Celtic, had his talent been spotted closer to home, but instead it was SuperSport who were to profit, having had the vision to cast their scouting net far and wide, as the player explains:
“I joined SuperSport at the age of 14. They held public trials in the Free State in Bethlehem and I was elected to join their academy. At the age of 18 I was promoted to the first team squad. Since I was a young kid I wanted to play in the PSL, so I knew that when they had the trials it was my chance, and fortunately I played well and was selected,” he told PSL.co.za.
Growing up in the remote and tiny town of Heilbron, Ntshumayelo found inspiration on the small screen in the form of an all-action former Bafana Bafana midfielder.
“I used to watch Benedict Vilakazi a lot on television, during his days at Orlando Pirates, and I always enjoyed seeing the way he took control of a game and made things happen - I learnt a lot from watching him.”
Ntshumayelo has been part of the Matsatsantsa first team squad since 2009/ 2010, the season the Tshwane side won their last Absa Premiership league title.
He still has many years ahead of him and is always looking to improve his game, and is not scared of the challenges that lie ahead.
“I think my strengths are that I can strike the ball well, I can pass well – and I am good technically and tactically, but I need to improve on my heading and my passing with my left foot – especially those 20 yard passes. There are a lot of good midfield players, both at SuperSport and within the league, but I am always ready to compete and to work hard to stay at the top,” he added.
The 21-year-old missed United’s 2-0 victory over Platinum Stars on Sunday through a knee injury, but says that he is hopeful of taking his place against Moroka Swallows in an Absa Premiership match scheduled for Wednesday night.