“I’m always ready for a fight” – Colchester United debutant Bongani Khumalo
Bongani Khumalo served up an impressive debut in the heart of defence, to coincide with Colchester United’s return to winning ways, against basement dwellers Yeovil on Tuesday night.
But influential centre-half Khumalo, recruited on loan from Tottenham last weekend, is gearing himself up for a “massive job” to come over the final seven weeks of the season.
The 28-year-old South African international, who scored for the hosts in their final group match of the 2010 World Cup, is hoping to guide the U’s away from the League One relegation zone.
It’s a tough ask – Tony Humes’ men remain five points adrift of safety, going into the final five games of the season – but Khumalo is ready to play a big role in a potential escape act.
“There is a massive job still to be done,” insisted Khumalo.
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“I certainly had no worries about joining a relegation-threatened team.
“I’m always ready for a fight. This is a challenge and an opportunity that has presented itself, and I’m willing to take it with both hands.
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“For me, I just want to get better and better.
“And I think we showed a good desire, and a good fighting spirit, which is what we will need for the last nine games.”
Khumalo signed for Tottenham way back in January, 2011, but has never made a first team appearance for the White Hart Lane club.
In fact, Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over Yeovil was Khumalo’s first senior game for more than a year, following a long struggle with a knee injury suffered while playing for South Africa.
His last outing was for loan club Doncaster Rovers, in a 5-0 defeat at Bournemouth on March 1, 2014.
“I had a bad (knee) injury, and I’ve had to work really hard to get back to where I used to be,” said Khumalo.
“I’m feeling good now, and I’ve had great support from all the medical staff at Tottenham, and also in South Africa, where obviously the incident happened. The surgeon did an amazing job, and I feel good.
“I’ve come back so much stronger from that, and it proves that hard work does pay off.
“Obviously it (Tuesday night) was the first game, and I’m still getting used to the rhythm of things in an official game.
“But I felt better and better as the game went on, and I’m looking forward to building on that.
“I think the team will build on that as well.”