NEW SuperSport United recruit, defender Siyabonga Nhlapo, is determined to make the most of this new chapter in his career.
Nhlapo joined Matsatsantsa a Pitori on a three-year deal on Tuesday and is already in camp with his new teammates in Limpopo, preparing for their opening match of the 2017-18 season against Kaizer Chiefs in the quarterfinals of the MTN8 at the FNB Stadium next month.
Nhlapo has no regrets about leaving the new Absa Premiership and MTN8 champions Bidvest Wits.
Said the defender: “I only have good memories of Wits. Both coach Gavin Hunt and (CEO) Jose Ferreira were big influences in my career and did everything to help me, especially during a difficult personal period in January, when they loaned me to Highlands Park.
“That helped me recover and regain some confidence.”
His new goal is to help United win the league title from his former employers next season.
“I jumped at the chance to join SuperSport,” said the hard-working right-back.
“They were interested in me a couple of years ago when coach Gordon Igesund wanted to sign me. I know I have joined the right club.
“SuperSport have a squad that can win the league – and could have won it last season, had it not been for the uncertainty over coach Stuart Baxter becoming the Bafana coach.
“That put the players off their game and ended their hopes of bagging the title. But this year under new coach Eric Tinkler I know United can win the league and I want to be part of the success.
“Eric showed he is a fantastic coach at Orlando Pirates and last year with Cape Town City, winning the Telkom Knockout and finishing third in the league.”
Nhlapo said he was looking forward to working with the SuperSport coach, as Tinkler was one of his heroes: “Eric was one of the stars of the Bafana Bafana side that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and he is one of my heroes, who inspired me to work hard and play for Bafana.”
Nhlapo had played for his country 12 times and recently helped new national coach Baxter’s squad beat Botswana in their penultimate Africa Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier earlier this month.
Said Nhlapo: “I was brought in to replace Michael Boxall who left, but I know I will have to fight for my place. I’m ready for the challenge. My other goal is to make sure I keep playing well to get selected for more Bafana matches.”