“There were times where I and Coach Pitso used to argue”

It is every player’s dream to go and play in Europe and compete with the best in the world but to achieve that a lot of sacrifices and hard work has to be endured and a lot is going to be said about you as a player and that will test your character. One player who has been through all that is Duduza born midfielder Bongani Zungu. “Ben 10” as he is affectionally known by the football-loving fans in the country started off his professional football career at Giyani based side Dynamos Fcin 2010/11 season, it was his performances at “Ri Khomeni Ri Nga Peli” that saw him being roped in by Amatuks to bolster their squad in 2012/13. He went on to play twenty-six games for Steve Barker’s side and the back of the net seven times. 

In came the big guns from Chloorkop for his signature and joining Mamelodi Sundowns at that time was seen as a huge risk as most players who were doing well at their teams would suddenly fall off the radar once they joined the former African Champions. Zungu went on to star for Sundowns and earned himself a move to Portugal, currently, he is plying his trade in the Ligue 1 in France for Amiens SC and has had a great start to his tenure there until an injury derailed his progress but now he is 100% fit and has started playing for his side and hopes to get his place back in the starting line up.

It feels good to be back and playing again, my confidence is back. Yha it was a bit difficult not playing because of the injury but if you remember when I went to Vitória Guimarães I had an injury but I managed to find my way back and I think that experience in Portugal has been vital in helping me get through this ordeal. The injury came at a time where I was a regular in the side but I have overcome that and its a thing of the past and I am looking forward to fighting for my place in the squad. My rehab process was great and I must give credit to the team for ensuring that I heal properly, they played a huge role and what I thank them most for is the fact that they sent a physio to South Africa to assist the whole process and now I’m back.

It’s not a walk in the park playing football away from home, we have seen players leave SA for better opportunities but they hardly stuck it out in foreign soil and they quickly return home without making a name for themselves.

Being away from home requires one to be mentally fit, have character and courage in order to survive. There are a lot of challenges that one faces here like the food, the language and the culture here. I feel like some of the guys that left SA for Europe did not have those and that’s why you see some of them only spent one season and then they went back home. To survive here you must be mentally strong

In a league game against Dijon, a moment of madness occurred during the clash a teammate of his Prince Gouano was racially abused by the home supporters and for the former Mamelodi Sundowns player had to face this.

Eish you know this racism thing at first it seemed as if it is far from us until that moment, I never thought I would have the first-hand experience as I always see it on TV. I’m used to seeing it on TV to guys like Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli but when you experience it you end up feeling like you do not belong there. It was a bad experience for me and I don’t ever wish it to happen to anyone. As I said before for one to survive such things one has to be mentally fit. I am lucky to have a big support structure from my family and friends and I remember after that incident happened my mother called me and said that I am a strong African child and I must be proud of where I come from and the person that I am and I must not forget that I am handsome hahahahaah and that I mustn’t let anyone take my Africaness away from me.

It’s never an easy feeling when one is racially abused and hopefully, the mother body of world football will do something to ensure that such behaviour is abolished from the beautiful game.

For me, I feel like this racism thing is like an evil spirit because they look at you and they think that you are not the same as them. I know and I am proud to be an African and I am not ashamed of my roots. The way I look at it is that the opposition fans are trying to get under your skin so that you lose focus on the game, but we can’t shy away from the fact that it is real and that racism must be kicked out and some awareness must be made. Not all players can deal with the emotional side effect when they are faced with such.

At the age of 26, the Bafana midfielder seems like to have hit the jackpot and is living the life but it’s known that he has faced some obstacles in his career and that has made him have this thick skins that are propelling him to greatness.

I have always imagined myself that I will be here from the days of Dynamos Fc, yes I’m not where I want to be but I am on the right track. I remember when I joined Mamelodi Sundowns from AmaTuks, people were saying that I am making a career suicide. I knew what I wanted when I joined Downs. I had to work hard and prove that I did not make the wrong decision. I had a plan, I remember having a chat with Coach Pitso and I told him what I wanted to achieve and he was very instrumental in ensuring that I accomplish my goals. He played a huge role in making the player that Bongani Zungu is today and also playing Champions League football moulded me into the player I am today.

One thing for sure that the Amiens SC player prides himself in is working with Jingles and we have seen the great work that the coach has done at Chloorkop and in the continent.

There were times where I and Coach Pitso used to argue but that was something for that benefited me at the end. I remember when he changed me from a number ten to a six, at first I did not like it but in the end, it worked out perfectly. Credit must be given to him for seeing my ability to do well in that position and look at where I am today. I excelled in that position and that is the same position I was scouted for in Europe. I am forever grateful to him and I am sure by now he is tired of my text on What’s App as I am always telling him that he played a huge role in my life as a person and the footballer that I have turned out to be. I remember when Coach Pitso came to Duduza to tell me that he wants to sign me, for a coach to come to your place that says a lot about him as a person.

He is a father figure of the field, when I was still at Sundowns he once told me to buy a house and he made sure that I get my self a personal banker who was going to assist me with my finances. On the field of play, he is very demanding, he wants his players to give their all and push all the way. he knows what he wants and he has a way of making sure that he gets what he wants. When you play for him you know that your nightlife must be sacrificed, sometimes he would call me at night and say I must watch a game and analyse it. That helped me a lot, now I can analyse my own games and I see that as growth. Here in Europe if you don’t play well the coaches will put someone else in your place and by being in the presence of Coach Pitso I had to learn that and that is how the coaches in Europe do things.

It is always fulfilling to see footballers acknowledging the people that have played a part in their growth whilst they can still hear them. Pitso Mosimane is known for his work ethics and the results are there showing that what you put in is what you get out.

I want to apologise to the Masandawana faithfull for what happened on social media, I feel everything was taken out of context and for that I sincerely apologize. Masandawana will always be my family. It is all in the past now, I have apologized to Coach Pitso and the President and I will always be grateful to them. it was a misunderstanding and all is sorted now. “Ka Bo Yellow”.

 

 

Author: Dumisani Koyana

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