Hlongwane To Follow In Chiefs Legends’ Footsteps

January 20, 2022

Newly-signed Minnesota United Bongokuhle Hlongwane will not be the first South African footballer to play in Minnesota, as he follows in the footsteps of a South African and Kaizer Chiefs legend.

The 21-year-old Bafana Bafana striker heads off to the MLS after Minnesota signed him from Maritzburg United earlier in the month.

While Hlongwane will be the ninth player from Africa (or African descent) to play for United, he will be the first South African, but he won’t be the first South African to play in the US State.

That honour belongs to the one and only ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe.

Back in the 1970s, football in the USA was a lot different to how it is now, but the North American Soccer League (NASL) attracted stars from around the world. Many South Africans, including Kaizer Motaung, Jomo Sono, and of course Ntsoelengoe played in the USA.

It was after Motaung’s time at the Atlanta Chiefs that the former Orlando Pirates star returned to South Africa to form Kaizer Chiefs. And of course it was in Kaizer’s team that Ntsoelengoe first came to the fore.

In 1975 Ntoselengoe joined the Denver Dynamos, and that team in turn relocated and became known as the Minnesota Kicks.

The South African legend would play 155 games for the club, scoring 50 goals. In all, he would play 11 seasons in the USA and in 2003 Ntsoelengoe became the only South African to be inducted into the US Hall of Fame.

It may be almost half a century later, and while most football fans in the MLS will not remember ‘Ace’, his legacy lives on.

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