‘He started as a striker’: Youth academy coach Palacios on Bafana Bafana defender

Did you know a current Bafana Bafana defender once terrorised defenses as a striker? His former youth academy coach Augusto Palacios reveals all!

Over the past two decades, Palacios has developed numerous players, many of whom have gone on to play for Orlando Pirates senior team.

This includes the likes of Lyle Foster, Joseph Makhanya, Thabiso Monyane, Gift Leremi, Lebohang Mokoena, Augustine Mahlonoko, among others.

The Peruvian football coach did have two stints with the Buccaneers senior side as a caretaker coach, however, he spent most of his time developing players.

It turns out Bafana Bafana and FCSB center-back Siyabonga Ngezana honed his skills in the Pirates youth system before moving to Kaizer Chiefs. 

Interestingly, his former coach there, Palacios, has revealed that Ngezana started his career as a striker before transitioning to defense.

IT TURNS A BAFANA BAFANA DEFENDER BEGAN HIS CAREER AS A STRIKER

“He started as a striker, but once he went to the centre-back position, he adapted very quickly,” Palacios told KickOff.

“He had very good qualities and understood the opposition strikers very well because it's a position he could also play. I would say the only thing that needed some work was his marking.

“But he grasped everything very well because he was naturally competitive, he wanted to learn and improve.”

Palacios heaped praise on Ngezana, commending his maturity and strong performances since his move abroad.

“He has matured now and it's good to see him doing well abroad. I hope he keeps growing and goes to an even bigger league because he is capable,” he added.

“But the key is that he went at the right time. Some players go too soon and others want to go too late, but I think Ngezana went at the right time.”

INTEREST FROM OTHER EUROPEAN CLUBS

With his consistent displays at FCSB, Ngezana has attracted interest from a handful of clubs in Europe. 

This includes the French Ligue 1 side Lorient who made an offer which was rejected by FCSB. Ngezana also revealed that there’s another club interested in his services in Turkey.

“To be quite honest, that time the league was coming to an end, I had so many interests from other teams, but my focus was to keep my head down and focus on winning the league, which we did,” he told Marawa Sports Worldwide.

“I heard a lot of rumours, but obviously, it was rumours; I don’t pay too much attention to them until there’s something solid.

“It was not only a team from France but also in Turkey. But it means there’s something because even my boss, Mr. Gigi Becalli, also said something about it.

“So, it’s not on my hands. It’s under the management.”

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Nkosiyabuya Sithole

Nkosiyabuya Sithole, a young and rising sports journalist based in Durban, South Africa, harbors a deep passion for football. Nevertheless, he aspires to become a well-rounded journalist, adept in various areas of the field.

Nkosi's career began in 2020, working as a home-based writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since written for various websites, including Briefly News, FiND-iT News, and The South African. Attending live sporting events is a particular pleasure for him, as they provide opportunities for interaction with sports personalities.

Outside of the office, he's a God-fearing and affable young man.