Mabunda’s time to shine

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

It is of­ten said that one man’s pain is an­other man’s plea­sure, and this could be true for Mamelodi Sun­downs mid­fielder Tiyani Mabunda, who only got his big break af­ter Bongani Zungu was in­jured ear­lier this year. Be­fore Zungu’s in­jury, the 28-year-old, Giyani-born mid­fielder played for Sun­downs’ Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge side, and be­fore that he had made five ap­pear­ances for the Brazil­ians in two years and seven months at Chloorkop. Mabunda was at one point off­loaded to Free State Stars on loan. The Bafana Bafana in­ter­na­tional, who won the Absa Premier­ship cham­pi­onship at the end of last sea­son, said this week: “At the be­gin­ning of last sea­son, I made a prayer to God to place me in a team that He wanted me in, where He could strengthen His power over my life and where I would be able to com­pete against the best in the world.” He said he was reg­is­tered late at the be­gin­ning of last sea­son, and only played for the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge side. “When I re­turned from Stars, I was reg­is­tered with the team and I thought if [it was] God who had placed me here again, then prob­a­bly there’s some­thing that I have to do here.” But he ad­mit­ted that it was never easy. “I couldn’t un­der­stand why they would reg­is­ter me in the league but al­low me play in the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge. But I let it go.” He said when things changed in April, he knew the time that God had made him wait for had come. He never lost hope and his pas­tor, Shep­herd Bushiri of the En­light­ened Chris­tian Gath­er­ing Church, had kept him go­ing. “I have a spir­i­tual fa­ther in Bishop Bushiri, who al­ways tells me to be­lieve that God [will] make a plan for me,” he said. “I be­lieve every­thing that comes out of his mouth, and I had no rea­son to doubt him be­cause I knew if he said so, it was go­ing to hap­pen.” Mabunda said things had im­proved and the best was still to come. “God has only started re­veal­ing Him­self to me and I be­lieve a lot is still com­ing my way. With Him, I can with­stand any chal­lenge.” Last week, Mabunda walked straight into the Bafana Bafana start­ing line-up against Sene­gal af­ter be­ing called in as a re­place­ment for the in­jured Dean Fur­man. He said his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the CAF Cham­pi­ons League had made him stronger, and he had not been in­tim­i­dated by the star-stud­ded west African side. “I prayed to God to give me the op­por­tu­nity to play against the best in the world and I will for­ever be grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.” Mabunda’s first ex­pe­ri­ence of con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup at Black Leop­ards in 2011 was a good base, and it en­abled him to un­der­stand the re­quire­ments of play­ing on the con­ti­nent. Now that he was a reg­u­lar fea­ture in coach Pitso Mosi­mane’s team, he said, he would per­se­vere. He now wants to ce­ment his place in the na­tional team.

PHOTO: STU­ART FRANKLIN / BONGARTS / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: BACK­PAGEPIX

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