Mamelodi Sundowns’ new rightback signing, Anele Ngcongca, said his fallout with his coach at Racing Genk stemmed from an insult.
The Bafana Bafana defender said he had signed for Sundowns based on his close relationship with former national coach Pitso Mosimane‚ the ambition of the team‚ the impressive manner in which they had won a league and cup double last season‚ and their strong signings.
Ngcongca spent last season on loan at relegation-bound Troyes in France’s Ligue 1 after a fallout with new Genk coach Peter Mayes a year ago‚ which forced the defender to move from the club where he had become a fan favourite.
“I spoke to coach Pitso I think a year ago‚ when I had the problem with the coach at Genk‚” he said. “We were communicating a lot‚ and I told him: ‘Look I’ve got this problem’.
But I had to go to France on loan‚ because of the package I was on‚ with three years left on my contract at Genk. “After that I came back to Genk – with the same problem.
I trained with the second team, but we came to an agreement for me to leave.” Ngcongca said Maes had insulted him in training. “The coach came from Lokeren.
In a training session I got a kick in the ankle‚ and I felt the pain‚” the defender said. “I stopped training. And then he said: ‘No‚ listen‚ I thought you Africans were stronger than that’.
“And for me that seemed an insult. So I just left the training. And then it was finished for me – in Europe you can’t do that. “But I did it. Because‚ first of all‚ he never respected me.
“He came to the team and was supposed to sit down with the players who had been there for a long time and tell us his philosophy and what he wanted, but he never did that.”
Khayelitsha-raised Ngcongca, 28, was plucked from Cape First Division team FC Fortune by Genk in 2003.
He became a club legend‚ being voted into Racing’s Team of the Century in June last year‚ soon before his disagreement with Maes.
He won the league‚ two Belgian Cups and two Belgian Supercups there.
“It was emotional leaving. Genk was my second home. “They were the ones who gave me a chance‚ and I won everything in Belgium‚” Ngcongca said.
“The people there still have respect for me and being in their Team of the Century means a lot for me. But life goes on.”
Troyes had a nightmare 2015-16‚ finishing in last place on 18 points with a minus-55 goal difference.
“They came from the second division and it was tough for them‚” Ngcongca said.
“But I gained a lot of experience playing against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain‚ and guys like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic].
“I went to France because people were saying I was comfortable in Belgium‚ and that I could play with one eye closed there.”
Bafana’s 2010 World Cup right-back‚ who has 41 international caps‚ said his relationship with Mosimane had been the biggest factor in joining Downs.
“Of course‚ it was the coach. And I saw the team last season‚ winning the league. Everybody wants to be associated with champions.
“And once they signed ‘Vila’ [Sibusiso Vilakazi‚ from Wits]‚ I knew I was going to come.
“They’ve got Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly. I mean‚ my job will be easy as a defender.
“There was interest in Europe – some teams in Turkey. But it’s not a step back because I think it was the right time after nine years in Europe.
“The league in South Africa has improved a lot.
“It’s the best league in Africa, so I wanted to taste it.”
Ngconcgca has yet to make his debut in PSL football.
“It is strange coming back to SA having never played in the PSL. I trained with Sundowns last week. I saw the pace was high – more than in Europe‚” he said.
“And I have to adjust‚ of course. But some of the players I’ve played with in the national team so it won’t take long.”