Up or down, quiet Ngcongca was a team player who always had your ...

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Up or down, quiet Ngcongca was a team player who always had your back

Aaron Mokoena says he was honoured to captain the player, whose nine years in Europe showed how good he was

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Anele Ngcongca challenges Franck Ribery during a 2010 Fifa World Cup Group A match between Bafana Bafana and France at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
ONE OF SA'S BEST Anele Ngcongca challenges Franck Ribery during a 2010 Fifa World Cup Group A match between Bafana Bafana and France at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Anele Ngcongca was arguably the second-best right-back to play for Bafana Bafana after 1990s star Sizwe Motaung‚ his former national team captain Aaron Mokoena said.

Ngcongca died in a car crash on the N2 outside Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Monday. The 33-year-old was reportedly travelling to Durban to conclude a loan move from Mamelodi Sundowns to AmaZulu. He was not driving.

Mokoena said on Power 98.7’s Power Drive that a measure of 2010 Fifa World Cup teammate Ngcongca’s pedigree was that the right-back played in the Uefa Champions League and was teammates at KRC Genk with big-name Belgium internationals Kevin de Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois.

“It’s ... a sad day for all football-lovers. I’m really shocked — it hasn’t really sunk in yet‚” Mokoena said on the show.

“We have lost a talent. I was honoured to captain Anele. He never made my life difficult. One of the most honest players in a playing field.

“For me‚ I think after Sizwe Motaung he became the second-best right-back. I’ve played right-back and I knew that when Anele was playing he had my back‚ I had his back.”

The late Motaung, the 1990s Sundowns‚ Tenerife and St Gallen (Switzerland) star, was Bafana’s right-back when they won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil.

Ngcongca‚ from Gugulethu in Cape Town‚ moved to Genk from that city’s first-division FC Fortune at 19 in 2007. There he won the Jupiler Pro League title in 2010-11 and three cup trophies.

He played a season on loan at Troyes in France’s Ligue 1 in 2015-16. In four years at Sundowns he added three more league titles and two more cup medals.

Mokoena said nine years in Europe was testament to Ngcongca’s quality.

“What a quiet person — that’s probably the best way to describe Anele. He was a team player‚” said the former Bafana captain‚ who played for Genk before Ngcongca.

“And again‚ for the fact that he was one of the best exports ... and he played Champions League.

“I always say that to be the best you have to rub shoulders with the best. Anele played with Kevin de Bruyne — that tells you how good he was.

“Anele probably had another two to three years before he retired. He was a player who wouldn’t gain weight.

“For me‚ he was the same structure as (ex-Bafana striker Siyabonga) ‘Bhele’ Nomvethe. Very disciplined‚ very dedicated — that player who would give you up and down at right-back.”

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