Bafana Bafana soccer star Thamsanqa Mkhize’s family Ndlangamandla Mkhize (father), Anele (sister), Mthoko (brother) and his mother Lindiwe displaying the player’s trophies at his village home in KwaXimba outside Cato Ridge. Photo: Nkululeko Nene/Sunday Tribune

The family of Bafana Bafana star Thamsanqa Mkhize has remained steadfast that the national team will beat Nigeria tonight in their African Cup Of Nations encounter to progress to the semi-finals on Sunday. 

Tonight’s match at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt is a decider whether Bafana Bafana would stand a chance to progress to the last four of the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. 

Although the right-back's father Bongamandla Mkhize, 57, will miss the match as he will be working the night shift at a consumer goods company, he has no doubt that the team will emerge triumphantly. Mkhize Senior said that he had advised his son to stick to the coach's game plan.

“We are fully behind him and the boys. His performance in the past three matches has been amazing thus far. He has never disappointed, the whole village is singing his praises. I had a chat with him earlier today to remind him that the entire squad carries the hopes of the nation. We expect a lot from the team after their amazing win against Egypt in the previous match,” Mkhize said. 

Mkhize is a staunch Orlando Pirates supporter, but when Cape Town City signed his son from Maritzburg United in 2016 he had no choice but to support his son’s latest club.

This was not in vain as Thami captained the Cape-based outfit to its second piece of top-flight silverware as they won the MTN 8 Cup final against Supersport last year. 

“It is a tough choice to make but I choose to support his club as they say blood is thicker than water. He supports the family through the salary he earns from his club,” Mkhize said. 

The player’s mother Lindiwe Mkhize, 51, said her son had worked very hard for his success. She said that since Thami turned professional with Durban based Lamontville Golden Arrows in 2010 a lot had changed about him. 

“Growing up he used to fight a lot with his peers but after turning professional his attitude changed. He is also very picky with his diet and he does not eat recklessly,” she said. 

His older brother, Mthoko, 33, said that although Thamsanqa was thousands of kilometres away he remained very close to their hearts. 

“He has become an idol in the village, everyone who grew up with him is inspired by his success. When he kicks the ball there is always a thunderous roar from family and friends appreciating his skilful touch” he said.  

Neighbours said the player had made the entire village famous. Qiniso Mabaso reminisced about the opening match Thamsanqa played against the Ivory Coast side.

“The entire village was glued to their television screens and his outstanding performance had everyone screaming with excitement. The village came alive with vuvuzelas blowing beyond the hills,” Mabaso said. 

Ward 1 eThekwini resident Thamsanqa Mkhize, 31, started his soccer journey at his dusty village in KwaXimba near Cato Ridge. 

He is the first player from the area to turn professional and eventually play for Bafana Bafana, certainly another win tonight would send his village into a frenzy.

Sunday Tribune