AmaZulu president Sandile Zungu has admitted a double loss for him on a personal level following the passing away of striker Bongi Ntuli.
Ntuli, who passed away last week Sunday and was being laid to rest on Thursday, was a son-in-law to Zungu as he married his daughter, Snenjabulo Zungu, who is the club’s CEO.
But at the same time Zungu lost a striker, who was very key for Usuthu, especially in their survival in the 2019/20 season, scoring 13 of 20 goals the club scored that campaign to avoid relegation.
The following season Zungu bought the club through his company ZICO, with Ntuli staying influential and scoring two goals that saw Usuthu knock out Nyasa Big Bullets to qualify for the CAF Champions League second round for the first time ever in the 2021/22 season.
Ntuli scored another vital goal as Usuthu dumped Congolese giants TP Mazembe out in the second round to qualify for the group stages, the first time the Durban club did that in Africa under coach Benni McCarthy
“At the personal level, it’s a huge blow,” said president Zungu when asked about the double-blow of the passing of Ntuli.
“Ntuli was my son in-law. In isiZulu, samchela ngenyongo [we traditionally accepted him] in the house of my father. We accepted him as son-in-law because he paid it all [the lobola], so we lost a son in-law and my daughter, Snenjabulo, is inconsolable. But time is a healer, God is the dependable God. I have no doubt in time, she shall be a better person, even if she never forgets Ntuli.
“At the team level, we would lose a player and we will work hard to find another player in the transfer market. I think Ntuli will never have wanted to be remembered as someone in his absence when the team collapses – he would want us to get someone like him or better than him.”
Zungu also confirmed their league match against Golden Arrows at Mpumalanga Stadium will go ahead as planned on Sunday.
He also added the number 7 that was worn by Ntuli won’t be used this season because it was registered as his in the PSL, but to retire the number completely will be discussed.
“There is no doubt that jersey number 7 will be disaffected to some form of retirement in reverence and honour of Bongi Ntuli,” said Manzini.
“But it is still a matter for discussion. But more certainly in the current season, it is a number that we are not going to use. But the legacy of Ntuli is not in the retirement of jersey number 7, it is all other great memories that he leaves behind with Usuthu.”
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Painfully, Ntuli passed away on the day he was set to get married traditionally after a short battle with cancer.