I kept telling myself in my head that my time is now and it’s time to prove why I am here – Ntando Nkosi

Mamelodi Sundowns promoted their U-19 midfielder Ntando Nkosi, a promising young footballer, to the senior team at the beginning of their 2022-23 season. In the world of football, dreams can become a reality with hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck. For “Scara”, his dreams soared to new heights when he received an invitation to train with the first team as the life-changing news to his promotion to the senior team slowly became reality.

In an exclusive interview, Ntando shared his overwhelming emotions about being called up to the senior team. With a broad smile illuminating his face, he expressed: “It was a surprise because I was playing for the U-19 team and not even in the DDC squad (Reserve team) or training with them, but the next thing I was invited to the first team pre-season. I thought maybe they were just pulling my leg or it’s all a dream, but as time went on I saw that it’s real. The Coach mentioned that they noticed me at the Engen Cup tournament, I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Nkosi beamed with joy and excitement as he shared his thoughts on winning his first senior trophy with The Brazilians, he said: “It feels a lot different because here you have to work for it more than ever. You have to do extra sessions and have the mentality of being strong.”

“It’s different from the junior team because with the juniors it’s possible to beat a team 13-0, but here in the senior team it’s tough. You play against teams like Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United, it feels different because you have to work really hard to earn those trophies in the senior team.”

Ntando’s rise to prominence didn’t just bring joy to his heart but also to his mother, and when Ntando made his debut appearance for the senior team on the television screen, tears of pride filled her eyes. “I got the first phone call from my mother, she was even crying and telling me how proud she is. I also cried with her to hear how happy she was, it was great.”

The 19-year-old rising star formed part of the teams that took part in the Carling Black Label Cup at the beginning of the year and has gone on to feature in numerous games for Bafana Ba Style. Speaking about his debut, Nkosi brought back to mind how nervous he was on the day. “My debut was in the DStv Premiership against Richards Bay, I played well but there’s still a lot to improve because I wasn’t expecting to play.”

“The minute the Coach told me I will be going in I thought to myself that my time is now. The only thing that I kept telling myself in my head was that my time is now and it’s time to prove why I am here, I am not here by mistake and I kept motivating myself up, I liked it because it also gave me the right mentality because even now I have this thing of pushing myself mentally and telling myself that whatever I get thrown into I will fight it out there.”

Playing alongside Themba Zwane, Masandawana’s captain and an established superstar in South African football, was a surreal experience for Ntando. The young attacker expressed how the opportunity to share the pitch with his idol was a dream come true and how Zwane’s support and encouragement pushed him to new heights, helping him adapt seamlessly to the star studded squad.

“I feel blessed because I grew up watching these people on tv, but when I got the chance to play with him [Themba Zwane] I was over the moon. I can’t describe the feeling and even now it makes me happy to think about it. He’s a very humble human being, he guides and advises the young players because whenever we go to him to ask him for guidance. I am grateful that he helps us out and offers.”

As the new season awaits, Nkosi has encouraged his age mates to persevere in the first team and to reach great heights as his counterparts around the globe, he said: “I pray to God to help them and to believe that it’s doable. Look at [Siyabonga] Mabena who is 16-years-old and then there is Jerome [Karelse] and Thando [Buthelezi]. It’s possible because nowadays our age mates are playing [in their senior teams] that side [internationally], why can’t we play? We just have to believe it and work hard.”

“I told myself that I will be part of the team next season against all odds, I am going to play because I am willing to work extra hard. Everyday I have to work very hard and have the mentality that now it’s time to work.”

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