Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Happy Mashiane of Kaizer Chiefs during warmup in January 2021. PHOTO: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix/Gallo Images
The tenderfoot duo of Happy Mashiane and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo couldn't have happened at a more perfect time for Kaizer Chiefs. They are at Chiefs at a time when supporters are crying, at a time when Amakhosi are dropping some much-needed points.
For the downtrodden supporters, the two dribbling wizards have somehow provided an escape from the real problems that have enveloped one of Mzansi's most successful clubs. The problems at the family club are huge and well documented and sadly, there's nothing anyone can do about them, until the end of the season... maybe.
A serious mishap from the office resulted in FIFA slapping Chiefs with a ban that they cannot sign players until the end of this current season. This meant that new coach Gavin Hunt could not take his trolley for a shopping spree – he had to work with what he found at the club.
And with the old guard Bernard Parker, Itumeleng Khune, Khama Billiat, Lebogang Manyama, Leonardo Castro, Willard Katsande now functioning with the speed of a punctured 1970s Volkswagen Beetle, this has given Mashiane and Ngcobo ample time to stake their claim in the team and to remind the supporters of one hell of a similar combination in the past.
From around 1996 until the dawn of the new millennium, the Soweto duo of Thabo 'Tsiki-Tsiki' Mooki and Thabang 'Chillies' Lebese were the darling of the Amakhosi faithfuls. They had forged a telepathic understanding that devastated many midfielders and hard-tackling defenders. In some sort of a psychic manner, they could sense what kind of a run the other was going to take. "Thabo thiba Thabang", they were called.
The commentators loved it, not only because it rhymed beautifully, but because the on-field combination brought many victories and happy moments for local diski supporters. On good days they opened up defences like Moses did with the Red Sea. They were just a marvel to watch and even to this day, Chiefs fans still talk about Thabo thiba Thabang animatedly.
A number of promising youngsters – Emmanuel Letlotlo, Simphiwe Mtsweni, Levy Mokgothu, Zitha Macheke and Philani Cele, who were touted to take over the stardom baton from the likes Doctor '16V' Khumalo, Marks Maponyane, Teenage Dladla and Patrick 'Ace' Ntsoelengoe to mention but a few, either failed dismally, or they just could not handle the pressure of wearing the famous and historic black and gold colours of Chiefs.
But in Mashiane and Ngcobo, we are seeing glimpses of the Mooki and Lebese combo. The first round 3-0 clobbering of Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) is an ideal example. Mashiane and Ngcobo had the mellow, but deadly, killer combination of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg in Nuthin' But A G Thang, leaving the long-suffering Chiefs supporters eating out of their hands.
Ngcobo was in a class of his own when he left a defender for dead with a delicious chip before he unleashed a gorgeous goal. The 21-year-old Pietermaritzburg lad continued where he left and tormented the TTM players and toyed with them as if they were rag dolls.
Mashiane was not to be outdone – and his cultured left-foot created a goal for Manyama and another for himself. Mashiane's goal was also top-drawer material as it nestled into the top corner, leaving the TTM goalkeeper clutching thin air.
For the Chiefs fans, the celebrations are not just about the emphatic win, they are about the two new kids on the block who are giving them solace in a season where any sort of comfort and hope is important to soothe the heartburns caused by the big bosses.
Chiefs are out of the Nedbank Cup after an embarrassing defeat to minnows and first division lads, Richards Bay. This means that both Ngcobo and Mashiane will have to dig more from their bag of dribbling tricks to keep the fans entertained and interested – since there's so little to play for this season. The Nedbank Cup was Chiefs' last hope in saving grace, because expecting them to win the league or the CAF Champions League is somewhat far-fetched and unfair.
The Ngcobo and Mashiane show has rolled into town: let's grab our popcorn, sit back and relax our feet on the couch…