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Kwem – I had To Cry For Ntuli

AmaZulu striker Augustine Kwem has explained why he was emotional after he scored a second-half hat-trick against Golden Arrows before the international break.

The game came after Bongi Ntuli sadly passed away on 5 November 2023 due to cancer. The players were given days to mourn, but everyone felt the significant impact Ntuli had at the club.

Usuthu were on the cusp of defeat against Arrows, who had opened the scoring after Gladwin Shitolo nodded the home side ahead in the first half.

With the game petering out, Usuthu coach Pablo Franco Martin took off Ethan Brooks and replaced him with Kwem in search of an inspiring comeback.

The Nigerian international duly obliged, picking a loose ball to get the equalizer in the 80th minute. Then he quickly took the game by the scruff of the neck, nodding in a header three minutes later.

He then grabbed a hat-trick in the 90th minute after a pass from Celimpilo Ngema. The former TS Galaxy and Chippa United striker became the first player to score a hat-trick for Usuthu after coming on as a sub since Rulani Manzini did so against Chippa United in May 2017.     

“It was quite emotional because Bongi was like everyone has said, a player that had no altercation with anyone, no fight,” said Kwem.

“You wouldn’t see Bongi swear at you at training or anything, he was smiling. Before I came, there was a season where he rescued AmaZulu single-handedly when the club was fighting the relegation [in 2019/20 season].”

Ntuli was the go-to guy then, scoring 13 of the 20 goals of the club to finish 13th on the DStv Premiership table.        

Kwem said the sad passing of Ntuli has taught him many things he never envisaged before.

“This life just tells me a lot of things, asking myself why because the day he died my daughter was turning one,” Kwem continued.

“I was celebrating my daughter’s birthday in Jo’burg and the president [Sandile Zungu] told us about Bongi’s passing. It just puts me in the kind of state that ‘what if it was me [who] would be left with a memory (my daughter) which is a picture’.

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“I just pray that his family, and wife grant them the strength to be stronger.”

It was the second time Usuthu had scored three goals in the space of a week against Arrows, as Kwem’s fellow striker Junior Dion netted a hat-trick when they beat their city rivals 3-0 in the Carling Knockout Cup quarter-final.

Usuthu are back in action against Stellenbosch FC at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (15:30).     

Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala is iDiski Times' KwaZulu-Natal-based web journalist. Boasting extensive experience in the South African football landscape, Robin-Duke has previously worked for Kick-Off Magazine, Soccer Laduma, and Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. He specialises in breaking news and transfers around South Africa’s big clubs in KZN.