Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has hinted at a potential system change when domestic football returns in order to accommodate Nkosingiphile Ngcobo after his fine performances in December.
Ngcobo featured in Amakhosi’s three December fixtures, scoring two goals and assisting another in Baxter’s absence on the sidelines after the coach had tested positive for Covid-19.
However, Baxter now insisted that he has noted Ngcobo’s strong performances and is thinking about changing the system to add the youngster as another attacking player to his trusted trio of Keagan Dolly, Khama Billiat and Bernard Parker.
“Definitely, he put his hand up,” he told reporters.
“I know a Swedish player who plays for Manchester United called Joseph Elanga. He’s just got into the team. He got into the team because Mason Greenwood was screwing up his life, basically.
“Now, football is cut and thrust. So Mshini, he gets a little bit of an embellish role, because we’ve got the Covid thing and we’re trying to put the team together as best we can. And he takes that opportunity.
“But that’s football. For me, that’s football, he did put his hand up. And that’s why he played again. Then he put his hand up again. So when we get back, we have to think about a way of playing that gets all of our best players on the field.
“And if he continues to do that, then he’s telling me I’m one of the best players, I need to be on the field. So whatever shape or balance we have to the team, if we’re playing with back-three or back-four, three front players or two and one behind, whatever we play, he’s telling me ‘you better have me mind’.
“So he’s not doing anything that I didn’t know he could do. But again, credit to him in that respect, he takes his chance. And that’s football.
“So it isn’t a question of I don’t like him, and Sheppy [Dillon Sheppard] and Arthur [Zwane] thought it was a great idea to smuggle him into the team. Because they know that when I came back if that was the case, I would just bin him again.
“But, I’m serious! I’m serious about trying to find a system that will get Keagan Dolly, Mshini, Khama Billiat, Bernard Parker, maybe Samir Nurkovic is coming back. One of them is not going to be in the in the line-up. So I’ve got to try and get as many on the field as I can.
“Maybe we have to get a bit more creative with that. Maybe we have to look and see who is still doing it.”
Baxter also explained why Ngcobo struggled for game-time in the first few games of the season before Chiefs’ Covid-19 outbreak gave him a chance to shine.
“So that’s where we are but I couldn’t understand again if there’s a perception that well he didn’t play too many games,” he added.
“But I would say at that point he’s going up against Keegan, who was flying, he’s going up against Khama, who was flying. Bernard was probably one of our best players. Sammy was out.
“At the time, he wasn’t doing a lot wrong, but it just felt like, we weren’t playing in a shape that has four front players, we were playing with three.
“I tried him actually playing him as an eight and I didn’t think he ran on well, so where we played him, coming in off the left in that pocket, or drifting into a number 10 role. That’s where he should play for us.”
Overall, Ngcobo has featured in eight of Chiefs’ 16 DStv Premiership games this season, having been used in as many as 40 games before Baxter’s arrival in 2019/20.