Sowetan

Unsettled Nhlapo happy at Bafana

Defender hopes to secure his club future after Chan

- By Sihle Ndebele ■

For Bidvest Wits’ unsettled defender Siyabonga Nhlapo, wearing the Bafana Bafana jersey is always a pleasure irrespecti­ve of the magnitude of the game.

Nhlapo is excited to be in the squad that will do duty against Botswana in a Chan qualifier on Saturday in Francistow­n Stadium (3.30pm). The squad depart today for the first leg.

The return fixture is set for July 22 at Moruleng Stadium.

Though some people have dubbed Chan – African Nations Championsh­ip – “lesspresti­gious”, the 28-year-old defender is not being discourage­d by that tag.

“For me, a call-up is always a call-up, it does not matter whether it is a Chan, Cosafa, Afcon or W orld Cup qualifier.

“This gives you a chance to work with the coach and be in the [national team] set-up. For us to assemble as we did is a great opportunit­y to go experience what we have never experience­d before,’’ said Nhlapo, who is hoping to earn his ninth cap in Bafana colours.

“I do not think there is a player here [in the squad] who has played in a Chan match before, so it is a great opportunit­y for everyone. The PSL and continenta­l football are not the same. Chan will give us a taste of playing against other African countries. Scouts might be there and we have youngsters in this team. It can be a breakthrou­gh for them.’’

Nhlapo made his debut in 2014 in a 0-0 internatio­nal friendly draw away to New Zealand. The former Highlands Park defender also acknowledg­es the role he has to play as a senior player in the squad to help young uncapped players.

“When I first joined the national team I found senior players like Yeye [Reneilwe Letsholony­ane] and Bernard Parker and they welcomed me. Now I will also do that to these youngsters in the team.’’

The Soweto-born right-back has recently been linked to a move to SuperSport United and is hopeful that his future will be decided when he returns from Botswana. His loan deal with Highlands lapsed in the just concluded season.

‘ ‘ For me a callup is always a call-up, it does not matter

See page 23

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 ?? / MUZI NTOMBELA / BACKPAGEPI­X ?? Siyabonga Nhlapo is not sure what the future holds for him after his loan deal with Highlands Park lapsed.
/ MUZI NTOMBELA / BACKPAGEPI­X Siyabonga Nhlapo is not sure what the future holds for him after his loan deal with Highlands Park lapsed.
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