Mkhize is right-back where he be­longs

Pretoria News - - SPORT - MINENHLE MKHIZE

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.

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