Mkhize is right-back where he belongs
THE BAFANA Bafana right back position is seemingly up for grabs at the moment and Cape Town City defender Thamsanqa Mkhize is intent on making it his to own.
Mkhize only made his senior international debut in Bafana’s 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso in the World Cup qualifier last month. And such was his delight at having worn the country’s colours that the City man wants it to happen all the time.
“I would be happy to make the right-back position my own because I want to play all the time,” he said.
To do that though, he will have to convince coach Stuart Baxter that he is better than the the current incumbent, Kaizer Chiefs’ Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
The Amakhosi man was out injured and his absence opened the way for Mkhize. And the lad from Cato Ridge in KZN did not disappoint as he dished out a consummate showing not too far from the polished performances that have seen him be among the first names pencilled in onto the City starting line-up.
With Mphahlele still out, he is likely to be the leading man for Bafana’s must-win two clashes with Senegal next month.
“I want to thank the coach for giving me the opportunity. If I get another one, I have to make sure that I’m consistent in my performances. Obviously, it is not a secret that I want to command a regular starting berth but I first have to be consistent..”
Should he realise his goal of making the position his, Mkhize will be continuing a trend that has seen the rightback position belonging to players from KZN.
Before him, the likes of the late Sizwe Motaung, Siboniso Gaxa and Bryce Moon played the role with aplomb.
Newcastle’s Motaung was part of the squad that won the Afcon title in 1996 and made 51 appearances for the national team. Moon occupied the rightback position when Bafana participated at Afcon 2008 in Ghana. The Pietermaritzburgborn full-back also represented Bafana in 2009 in the Fifa Confederation Cup. Moon had 17 international caps, scoring one goal for Bafana.
Gaxa also made his mark for Bafana at right-back. The KwaMashu-born defender earned 55 caps for Bafana. He made his debut in 2005 and played in three different Afcon competitions – in 2006 in Egypt, 2008 in Ghana, and 2013 in South Africa. He was also present in 2009 for the Confederation Cup and a year later for the World Cup.
“As a right-back my idol is Dani Alves. I love the way he conducts himself in that position. I grew up playing in midfield. I was converted when I arrived at Arrows. There’s a lot of central midfielders. I was compelled to operate at right back position and I’ve mastered it since then,” Mkhize explained.
As they look to qualify for Russia 2018, Bafana will no doubt hope that Mkhize does as good a job for them as his fellow KZN rightbacks did in the past.