CAPE TOWN - The handling of the appointment of a new Bafana Bafana coach is now reaching farcical proportions, especially with critical Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers looming.
But, irrespective of who the new man will be, one thing is axiomatic: If the next Bafana squad is selected without the name of Cape Town City right-back Thamsanqa Mkhize, then there is something seriously wrong with the national selectors.
In short, Mkhize has been the best performer in his position this season. Period. No argument. What’s more, he has all the qualities needed to succeed at national level.
The 28-year-old from Cato Ridge in KZN is in the prime of his career and in the form of his life. Blessed with an insatiable appetite for the game, and consumed with a tireless commitment to his team’s cause, Mkhize has been nothing short of brilliant for the PSL log leaders.
He’s not just a fearless tackler and an aggressive defensive presence, he’s also a supremely intelligent footballer to boot. Now, as City coach Eric Tinkler confirmed, Mkhize has added a lot more offensive bite to his game. The right-back netted his first goal for the Cape side in a 4-1 thrashing of Chippa United at the Athlone Stadium on Monday night - and he’s looking to get a few more before the close of the campaign.
“We’ve been trying to get Thami (Mkhize) into more attacking areas on the field,” said Tinkler. “He’s always been reluctant, but it’s starting to work now. He could’ve had two or three on Monday He’s an out-and-out right back, he’s a good professional, and he deserves the praise.”
Needless to say, Mkhize was overjoyed with his strike on Monday. He’s pushing forward more, he’s allowed to join in the team’s attacking forays, and he’s revelling in the freedom.
“It was a great feeling and a real confidence booster scoring my first goal for the team,” said Mkhize. “I’m happy that I’m contributing positively to the team, but most importantly winning with the team brings me joy.”
Let’s put it this way. National selection is not up to the individual player. It’s out of his control. The only thing he can control is his own performance. Like any other footballer, Mkhize has ambitions of playing for Bafana. So, while he continues to play out of his skin to ensure that City perform as best they can, at the back of his mind he’s always aware of the possibility of national selection.
At the moment, Mkhize isn’t just knocking on the selection door - he is, in fact, bashing it down. If the national selectors, and potential Bafana coaches, are watching with an objective eye, then surely the hinges should already be caving in. In short, that’s how good Mkhize has been this season.
But, and this has been the City credo all season with every single player in the squad, individual praise is sacrificed on the altar of the team ethic. For the City squad, nothing but the team matters - and Mkhize is no different.
“Obviously, Bafana is in the mind, but the club is my first priority,” said Mkhize. “All of us want to represent our country, but it’s something that can’t be forced.”
Nedbank Cup last 16 fixtures
Saturday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Golden Arrows; Chippa United v Polokwane City; Free State Stars v Orlando Pirates
Sunday: Bloemfontein Celtic v Mbombela United; Acornbush United v Kaizer Chiefs