Once the name Njabulo Manqana is mentioned, memories of that 2009 MTN8 final already come flooding, following the demolision of Ajax Cape Town (now Cape Town Spurs) by Manqana and his Golden Arrows teammates, who thrashed Ajax 6-0 to win their first major silverware.
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Having risen to prominence at his home province KwaZulu-Natal based club Abafana Be’sthende, Manqana and his teammates of that Arrows generationput their names on the South African history books when they outplayed Ajax, under the guidance of Manqoba Mnqithi, who is now coaching at Mamelodi Sundowns.
But, probably not many would remember Manqana turning out for Orlando Pirates in the 2011/12 season. The Buccaneers were under the mentorship of Brazilian born coach Julio Leal, who brought the right-winger to the Buccaneers, but things didn’t go as expected.
“Ja, I played at Orlando Pirates. You know, for a player to play for the likes of Sundowns or Pirates is a big deal. It was an offer I couldn’t decline after hearing from our club management that Pirates wanted me. I was happy and all of that, but now after three days of being at the club, the coach got fired. Yo, now I am thinking to myself what’s going to happen since the person who brought me to the club is now fired,” the former Arrows player recalls.
“Then Augusto Palacios took over. Everything went well even though it was not I expected because the coach who wanted me was no longer there. I played some games and we even went on to win the league during that season. It was great winning the league. Things might have not gone my way at Pirates, but I don’t regret it (joining Bucs).”
Manqana ended up leaving the Soweto giants early in 2013, joining another KZN side AmaZulu FC, before leaving the club in2014, as he went to play for Royal Eagles the following years before hanging up his boots.
“After Pirates I then joined AmaZulu, everything well there. I enjoyed my football and I left the club to join Royal Eagles in the lower division.”