Once touted as the next Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon legend), Robin Ngalande’s career is fast speeding into oblivion.
Ngalande returned home having last kicked the ball last year when he was on a futile loan spell at Platinum Stars in the South Africa Absa Premier Soccer League.
He moved to Stars after struggling for game-time at Bidvest Wits FC.
For all his talent, there are more unanswered questions as to why the former Atletico Madrid Academy forward has not been playing football for a year.
Between 2011 and 2012, Ngalande was hyped as the next big thing in Malawi football.
While playing for Madrid Youth Team after signing from Mamelodi Sundowns’ Youth Team, the BBC touted him as the next Eto’o.
Back home, Ngalande represented the future of the misfiring Flames. But since May 2015, when the then Flames’ coach Young Chimodzi introduced Ngalande from the bench and substituted him again during a Cosafa Cup tournament in South Africa, the attacker has not featured for the national team.
All the investment which Football Association of Malawi made into the player when he rose through the ranks having played for Malawi Under-17 and the Under-20, seems to, for now, be in vain.
It is sad for a player who, while at Madrid, used to rub shoulders with Diego Costa (now at Chelsea), Antonio Rayes (ex-Arsenal player) and David de Gea (now Manchester United goalkeeper).
Probably homesick, Ngalande terminated his contract with Madrid and returned to South Africa, saying the move was in the interest of his career. Reports say he differed with Madrid over money.
Probably, this was the genesis of his downfall. He is now out of the football picture.
However, his South African Manager, Paul Mitchell of Siyavuma Sports Group in South Africa, indicated that there was a glimmer of hope for the former Civo United forward.
Mitchell could not rule out the possibility of his client joining any local team on loan until July to keep in shape. Masters Security FC and Nyasa Big Bullets are among the potential suitors.
“He may sign locally until July or August in order to study. We also have options overseas from July. He was not able to study when younger so he will take this opportunity. In July or August, we will consider options,” Mitchell said in a written response.
Ngalande, as a free agent, can join a team of his choice outside the transfer window.
Previously, Mitchell said Ngalande returned to Malawi because he was affected by a visa problem in South Africa.
“He had a big visa problem issue that needed to be sorted [out],” he said.
Mitchell did not elaborate on the visa hitches.
In an interview yesterday, Ngalande said he was equally puzzled that he struggled to adapt to South African football after returning from Spain.
“I do not really know why things went that way in South Africa. But I am not focusing much on the negatives. I think it is time for me to move forward and I will rediscover my best form,” he said, adding that he had many offers on his table.
“I will play for a local club until August but I do not want a team that will demand a lot from me because I am also studying.”
He further clarified that he was forced out of Madrid because of change of management at the club that time.
Some have argued that the decision to quit Madrid was Ngalande’s biggest mistake, but MitcheLl defended his client, saying a change of coaching panel at Madrid was the main reason.
“At the time when Diego Simeone came in [as Madrid Manager] a few African boys got released and Robin was one,” he added.
Ngalande’s former team-mate in the Malawi Under-17 team, Tony Chitsulo, is also now forgotten. Chitsulo was one of the most feared attackers on the domestic scene.
He has now retired from football. Nobody knows what really happened for the former Silver Strikers forward to quit football.
Renowned sports analyst, Enos Chatama, described Ngalande’s talent as ‘special’ but urged the player to re-launch his career.
“Idleness will not help him. He has to find a club in Malawi and start afresh,” Chatama explained.
“In South Africa, there is intense competition than in Malawi so when
you are lazy you cannot make the grade. When you are given a chance, you have to take it with both hands and perform.”
Ngalande was in the limelight when Sundowns spotted him during the 2009 Africa Youth Championship in Algeria where Malawi claimed bronze to qualify for the World Youth Championship in Nigeria.
In 2010, Madrid spotted him while playing for Sundowns Youth Team during a youth tournament in Spain.
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