Nhleko impressed with current Cosmos squad

Brann 2003 Toni Nhleko

Former Jomo Cosmos striker, Nkosinathi Nhleko says he is impressed with the present crop of Ezenkosi players and believes the team stands a chance to win promotion to the PSL.

“I have been watching some of the matches here (in Vosloorus), and in my opinion these present crop of players can take Cosmos to the next level.

“Besides the tremendous amount of individual talent we’ve seen, there’s that intensity and hunger to win, which was lacking in previous seasons. I want to see Cosmos back in the PSL, and with this kind of attitude the team can actually realize that objective.

Nicknamed Chippa because he possessed similar predatory instincts as the legendary Bafana Bafana striker, Philemon Masinga, Nhleko admits that the game has metamorphosed over the years, and has become scientific.

“Compared to our days I think football has changed a lot, but in my estimation the boys are doing okay in terms of the modern demands of the game,” he said.

He relived his glory days with Cosmos during which he won the Coca-Cola Cup, the SAA Supa 8 and came close to adding the Premier League in his collection of laurels with Ezenkosi.

“In my days I played with the best set of players like Benjani Mwaruwari, Manuel Bucuane, Lucky Mhlathe, Hilton Jordaan, Dikgang Mabalane and Andrew Rabutla.

“Cosmos gave me the platform to showcase my goal scoring skills and I’ll be forever grateful to Bra J for the opportunity.

“The most memorable period for me, and which I cherish the most, was going overseas to play in Norway, Denmark and America.”

Chippa assumed legendary status when a flurry of goals in high profile matches against top PSL teams earned him the status of a lethal finisher and opened up opportunities for him overseas.

He recalled some of the matches he played for Cosmos where his performance surpassed all expectations.

“I’ll never forget when I scored four goals in a league match against Orlando Pirates in 1998. Three years I also hit the net four times in the 4-1 defeat of SuperSport United in the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals.

“With all modesty I think I’m the only Cosmos player to have done that, and that for me, is a landmark,” he said.

Nhleko, who quit the soccer stage in 2013 after a glorious spell, could well be described as a journeyman after plying his trade with various teams in South Africa, Europe and America.

On the international level, he won 10 caps for Bafana Bafana and made South Africa’s squad to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.

-Mark Ogagan

 

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