Stuart Baxter reveals why Njabulo Ngcobo hasn't debuted for Kaizer Chiefs


Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has explained why reigning PSL Defender of the Season Njabulo Ngcobo has not featured in the starting lineup for the club yet.

Ngcobo arrived at Chiefs at the start of the season on the back of an impressive 2020/21 domestic campaign with Swallows FC, during which he made 28 league appearances en route to being crowned Defender of the Season.

Despite his impressive form for the Dube Birds, the Bafana Bafana centre-back is yet to make his debut for the Amakhosi and has worked to do before breaking into Baxter's starting XI in the coming weeks.

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"The reason [for Ngcobo not starting] is that I had never seen him before," Baxter told the media ahead of Chiefs' clash against Royal AM. "You talk about last season, I didn't see one minute of last season, so the first minute I saw him was when I walked through the gate at Naturena.

"Njabulo is obviously going to have to make himself known to me, and me to him, for us to work together and see how quickly we can get him in. We had virtually no pre-season. We had, I think, one practice game, so therefore he's had very little chance to make a lasting impression.

"He's done very well in training, as has Austin [Dube] and at the moment it's a question of trying to ease them both into the scheme of things.  If you throw them in the deep end then you may break their chances of establishing themselves.

"The way to bring them in is to bring them into a stable environment where everybody knows their role and not just shooting from the hip. I think it's maybe more accepted here to just throw people in but that's far away from being the correct way to do it.

"I'm sure Njabulo will appreciate it when he gets his chance that he'll go in knowing what to do, being able to give a performance, instead of being thrown into a backline that he's not familiar with and that he's not had any practice with, apart from a few training sessions. Both he and Austin are understanding that situation.

Ngcobo features among the PSL's most valuable new-signings XI

"Njabulo has done a good job since he's got here," Baxter added. "We work very hard with our defenders and a lot of the stuff that we've done has been quite new to him.

"That doesn't mean he's a bad player, it just means it's a new environment with new demands and new teammates, and when we look at the whole situation, it's not correct to just take him and throw him in.

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"Of course, I didn't see him play last year. I wasn't in South Africa. So, he's a new player to me and I'm a new coach to him, his teammates are new, and we are hoping that we get him up to speed very quickly and have him as a completely integrated player.

"That process doesn't always go to two or three minutes, that's why until we feel it is 100 per cent, we are not going to be rushing him. He deserves that, he's a good player, but he deserves that time to get himself into the way we play."