Here is the story: When Orlando Pirates announced the signing of Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo earlier this season, his addition to the Bucs midfield was met with a lot of excitement from the supporters.
The feeling was that Pirates had finally found a creative genius who was going to add some spark to their engine room, which was criticized for lack of creativity, with the likes of Ben Motshwari, Thabang Monare, and Miguel Timm more adept with the art of defending than making meaningful contributions for the team offensively.
“Blessed with superb technical ability, creativity, an incisive range of passing and a willingness to work hard for his team, Ndlondo has shown to be adept in both attack and defensive situations,” read part of the club’s statement when they announced Ndlondlo signing.
The 27-year-old went on to give an impressive performance against Mamelodi Sundowns, just after his signing, which raised a lot of expectations.
But the big question is; has Ndlondlo lived up to expectations so far at Bucs?
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The fact of the matter is: Phillip Ndlondlo has appeared sixteen times for Amabhakaniya this season across all competitions, scoring two goals.
The worrying factor about Ndlondlo’s numbers at Orlando Pirates is the fact that despite scoring two goals, he doesn’t seem to influence the game a lot for the team going forward, something that should be showing in the assists column of his statistics.
For a player who is supposed to be creative, with an incisive range of passing as the club’s statement highlighted when he was signed, Ndlondlo hasn’t really set the scene alight at Pirates.
Maybe it is the way the team plays and the instructions from the coaching staff that has limited the pocket sized midfielder’s influence in the final third, where he can be dangerous.
On the other hand, Ndlondlo might not be the answer Orlando Pirates thought they had found to offer creative solutions for the team offensively.
To his credit though, Ndlondlo is not shy when it comes to doing the dirty work off the ball.
He is always involved when the team is chasing the ball, exchanging tackles with the midfield big boys. His work ethic is unquestionably excellent.
But that is not what the club signed him for, Timm, Motshwari, Monare, and latest addition to the Bucs midfield hard men, Makhaula, can do that.
Ndlondlo is supposed to be making headlines for his exploits around the final third, something he is not doing enough of.
Which raises the question, is he worth the hype that came with his signing?
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In a nutshell: Maybe it is just a matter of time, Ndlondlo may need more of it to make his mark at Pirates.
He is definitely not a flop, but from his performances so far, he hasn’t really lived up to the excitement attached to his name.
If he can’t do better than he is doing for Amabhakaniya, that would mean he is just another ordinary midfielder, and I can bet my last cent that Orlando Pirates were not looking for ordinary when they signed him, they were looking for extraordinary!