Mbabane: Mlungisi ‘Madzala’ Ngubane remains the only player to captain both bitter-sworn rivals Mbabane Swallows and Mbabane Highlanders.
Playing as a sweeper, ‘Madzala’ arrived in the flash and lights of Mbabane from Tambankulu Callies to join Swallows, kick-starting what went on to be an illustrious footballing career. In his second season with Swallows, he was already a regular in the senior national team Sihlangu where he also went on to captain the team.
Now, underline this, he is the only team captain in our lifetime to receive the Centenary Mbabane Mayoral Cup after leading Swallows to a victory over arch rivals Highlanders at the Prince of Wales Ground, the only game outside the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) schedule these two rivals can ever meet in.
He reckons, Sihlangu’s much celebrated 2-0 away win in Zimbabwe back in 2004 remains his best moment in football because he was the captain on the day under the tutelage of dearly departed Dumisa ‘Dodge’ Mahlalela. Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini and Sibusiso ‘Spoko’ Dlamini, a player he feels never reached his full potential were on target for Sihlangu in a blazing hot Sunday afternoon in Harare.
He was already a legend at Swallows but on the later stages of his career he crossed the Rubicon to join rivals Highlanders, a move that required him to be strong mentally as he had to take a lot of insults. He insists some Highlanders people did not trust his judgement and was considered a spy while those at Swallows could not take the fact that he joined their rivals.
‘Madzala’ is a top professional and to prove that, he was also handed the captain’s armband at Highlanders where he retired from the game. We sat down with him in a tell-it all interview…
INDEPENDENT NEWS: ‘Madzala’ thank you so much for your time and welcome to our pages
MADZALA NGUBANE: It is a pleasure
INDEPENDENT NEWS: You remain the only player to captain both sworn rivals Swallows and Highlanders, how does that feel?
MADZALA NGUBANE: It is an honour really to captain these great teams with so much rich history. The mentality and passion in both camps is the same and it can even reach boiling point on derby day. But honestly, it was not easy at first when I joined Highlanders from Swallows. The black and white camp could not believe my decision and that I cannot be trusted while the red and white camp were mad at me for joining their bitter rivals out of all teams. I took insults from both camps but I had to man-up.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: You have won a lot of trophies, individually and as a team, also played in many memorable games but which moment in football you can describe as your best?
MADZALA NGUBANE: Sihlangu away 2-0-win over Zimbabwe stands out especially because I was the captain of the national team on the day. It was a big win, Siza (Dlamini) and ‘Spoko’ (Dlamini) scored for us.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Who is the best player you have played with in your glittering career?
MADZALA NGUBANE: Mbazo (Gamedze) was the best because he was my role model. I looked up to him and then I found myself sharing with him the same hotel room while on Sihlangu duty. It was unbelievable but I never let him know he was my favourite player.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Which former teammate you feel never reached his full potential?
MADZALA NGUBANE: ‘Spoko’ (Sibusiso Dlamini). He was something else, out of this world and I want to believe he was never given enough playing opportunities in South Africa for his talent. But because he was a foreigner, you can always anticipate such things.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Which team did you support growing up?
MADZALA NGUBANE: Manzini Wanderers was my favourite team from childhood. It was always a motivation playing against them and as always, I would be on top of my game in our matches.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Which move you made in your career that you regret?
MADZALA NGUBANE: There were all fine moves for my career. I do not regret any.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Who was your naughtiest teammate?
MADZALA NGUBANE: Mfan’fikile ‘Fash’ Ndzimadze was a handful. But he was a great talent too.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: What is the nastiest thing you have ever said to an opponent?
MADZALA NGUBANE: (laughing), a lot is said in a football game- most often out of frustration but I remember telling Longondo (Jose) that I will beat him up.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Share some of the muti stories.
MADZALA NGUBANE: There is a lot my brother but I remember we went for some cleansing with this one team and we were covered in big plastics for kufutsa. It was too hot inside; I punched holes on the top for some fresh air.
INDEPENDENT NEWS: Who is your favourite player currently?
MADZALA NGUBANE: To me talent has to go with discipline hence Tony Tsabedze is my best player currently. Despite all his achievements, he remains level headed, disciplined and humbled. Other premier league players and upcoming stars can use Tony as a reference in their careers if they are to reach the top level and achieve great things.
‘MADZALA’S BEST XI FROM FORMER TEAMMATES
- Sipho ‘Shilton’ Dube
- Sipho ‘City’ Sibandze
- Menzi Gamedze
- Jerry ‘Mbazo’ Gamedze
- Mlungisi ‘Madzala’ Ngubane
- Joe Simelane
- Darren ‘Dazza’ Christie
- Manqoba ‘Dunga’ Kunene
- Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini
- Talos Masichane
- Civil Matsebula
Name: Mlungisi Ngubane
Nickname: Madzala/ Professor
Best boots: Nike Mercurial Vapour
Favourite TV programme: Reality shows
Best dish: Sea foods
Occupation: Life Claims Officer at Eswatini Royal Insurance Corporation
Favourite local player: Tony Tsabedze (Mbabane Swallows)
Favourite international player: Lucas Radebe (retired Bafana Bafana captain)