Premier Soccer League club Baroka has called on former Varsity Football winners Vusi Sibiya and Lawrence Ntswane to help them in their relegation battle.
The Lebowakgomo based side are tangled in a six-horse battle to beat the drop at the end of the current season. Former University of Pretoria captain and three-time Varsity Football champion Lawrence Ntswane has recently been added to Wedson Nyirenda’s squad to help shore up the defence that has leaked 29 goals in 25 matches so far this campaign.
The new Bakgakga acquisition has not taken too long to settle down as he caught the technical team’s attention a few days after penning a two-and-a-half-year deal. He was drafted into the heart of defence alongside Tshwane University of Technology’s Vusi Sibiya, a two-time Varsity Football champion in his own right.
The ‘Twin Towers’ fared next to each other for the first time in the 1-0 loss to Golden Arrows just a few weeks ago as the defeat compounded their relegation woes. But in an astonishing display recently, the duo shut the back door and impressively kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 over Kaizer Chiefs. Before joining Baroka, Ntswane had been turned down by University of Pretoria’s National First Division side and -then- PSL side Platinum Stars and says it was tough knocking on doors and not knowing which one was going to open.
“It was tough what can I say. You know in life you knock on a few doors, they will turn you down but eventually, one opens and that is what happened with me,” said Ntswane in a chat with Varsity Sports.
“But I didn’t give up and it was one of those things that I had a firm belief in. The right people also had belief in me and they had a positive impact in me making it professional as well.
“Football is something I wanted to play professionally so having a qualification now [Honours in Education Management Law and Policy] make things a bit easy, there is less pressure for me because I have something to fall back on, so I can focus fully on football.
“I don’t know why I never made it at Tuks, I guess I wasn’t the player they were looking for because I went to preseason with them on countless occasions but nothing materialised.
“I think I never caught the eye of the coaches, I think maybe it is because I was not the player I was looking for at the time.
“I went to Platinum Stars as well and I couldn’t get a contract there because they were looking for someone who was going to play immediately but I still had about 10 weeks left before finishing my degree so that didn’t work out as well.”
The 27-year-old defender says mutual respect and good understanding is what makes his partnership with Sibiya, 24, easy to carry out.
“I think the partnership with Vusi is a healthy one, we listen to each other, we give each other advise where it is due and most importantly, we respect each other makes it so successful in a sense that we complement each other’s ability and understand each other as well.”
Ntswane also thanked Varsity Sports for the opportunity and preparing for the limelight and pressure that comes with being a professional footballer.
“Just before we played Chiefs, I went through a few emotions you know, just not so long ago I played Varsity Football and when I opened my eyes on the day, we were doing field inspection at an iconic world cup value, I was going to play against one of the most successful teams in Africa, it was quite emotional and humbling,” he added.
“Believe it or not, Varsity Sports played a major role in our development. Playing in front of the cameras, the media interviews, the crowd that it brings into the stadiums plays a crucial role because when you get to the PSL, that’s exactly what you experience, that is what you leave week-in-and-week-out. And if you are not used to that kind of attention and pressure, it will be difficult to adjust and hit the ground running.”
By Sandile Ndumo