CAPE TOWN – The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers continue this weekend and Cape Town City have three players involved: Thamsanqa Mkhize (South Africa), Edmilson Dove (Mozambique) and Allan Kateregga (Uganda).
City captain Mkhize is in the Bafana Bafana squad for tomorrow’s all-important fixture against Nigeria at the FNB Stadium. As it stands in Group E, the Super Eagles lead the way with nine points, followed by Bafana on eight, Libya four and the Seychelles one point. Victory for the South Africans will ensure a place at the continental showpiece scheduled for Cameroon next year.
Right-back Mkhize has been in supreme form for City this season. His contribution to the team was again highlighted when he was named as the Man of the Match in City’s 3-1 win over Black Leopards last Sunday.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has, however, consistently preferred Kaizer Chiefs right-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele. The match against Nigeria should be no different - but Mkhize, as is his nature as the quintessential team man, will offer support, whether he is on the bench or in the stands.
After City’s win over Leopards at the weekend, Edmilson left to join his Mozambican teammates for Sunday’s Afcon qualifier against Zambia. The 24-year-old usually plays at left-back, but has recently been shifted to the centre of defence by City coach Benni McCarthy. It happened because McCarthy was dealing with an injury and suspension crisis to his central defenders.
He opted to play the classy, composed lefty at centre-back - and the player has performed excellently in his new role. In fact, he has done so well that McCarthy hasn’t changed things - he used Edmilson in the centre against Leopards and, again, the Mozambican was outstanding.
Mozambique’s Afcon group is tight and any of the four countries can qualify - Guinea-Bissau and Namibia are both on seven points, with Mozambique and Zambia both on four. So, for Edmilson, there is a lot to play for.
Kateregga scored his first goal for City in the win over Leopards, so he links up with Uganda in high spirits for tomorrow’s Afcon qualifier at home to Cape Verde. The Cranes are on the verge of booking a seat on the plane to Cameroon next year. As the Group L stands, Uganda are comfortably out in front with 10 points, followed by Tanzania with five, Cape Verde on four and Lesotho on two: so just a point should do for Kateregga’s Uganda when they face Cape Verde tomorrow.
The left-footer arrived in the Mother City in January. The Ugandan, though, took a while to settle down. Known as the “Dancing Rasta”, Kateregga has only recently been getting regular game time - and, last Sunday, he turned in a solid, hard-working performance in the win against Leopards.
His goal was the result of some superb play by City and Kateregga was the man at the end of it all to steer the ball into the net. Buoyed by his goal and performance for City at the weekend, the 24-year-old winger is confident Uganda can seal qualification for Afcon 2019 tomorrow.
“We are on the verge of back-to-back qualification for Afcon,” said Kateregga. “For me, it’s just a case of keeping on, and continuing to work hard.”@Reinerss11