Hlatshwayo has big dreams for Bafana Bafana
The tough-as-teak defender has represented his country at all levels - from the Under-17s, to the Under-20s he played in the 2009 Under-20 World Cup with, as well as captaining Bafana in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.
But apart from participating in major tournaments with those teams, the 29-year-old has no silverware to show for it.
He would like to change that in Cameroon in 2021 by leading Bafana to continental glory at the Afcon.
The road to that glory starts tomorrow against Ghana at Cape Coast in the opening match of their Afcon qualifiers.
Bafana will then host Sudan on Sunday in the second match.
“It is really important for us to achieve things with the national team, we are not getting any younger,” Hlatshwayo said.
“We’ve done well against Mali and we did well against Egypt, now it’s for us to make sure that we get a trophy.
“Because I don’t want to look back and say, ‘Thulani you played at the Afcon in Equatorial Guinea and at the Afcon in Egypt but what have you achieved?’
“It has to be a norm for South African teams to qualify for these major tournaments, but we also have to win something.”
Bafana held their only proper training session yesterday having flown to Accra on Monday and then driving to Cape Coast by bus.
Today they will get a feel of the stadium they will face the Black Stars on. Even though Ghana brought in seven new faces, there is a lot of familiarity between the two teams.
Hlatshwayo, for instance, has played against Ghana’s captain Andre Ayew since 2009 when the two national Under-20 teams met in the Last 16 of the World Cup.
The two led their senior national teams in Dubai in a training match before the Afcon.
Bafana went on to have a better Afcon than Ghana who were meek and crashed out in the Last 16 while Hlatshwayo and company reached the quarter-finals after knocking out the hosts Egypt.
“Both teams were preparing for the Afcon at the time,” Hlatshwayo said.
“They changed a lot of players, but the personnel that they have are people that we know very well.
“Your (Christian) Atsus, (Asamoah) Gyans and Andre Ayew were there but they didn’t play the whole game.
“We also changed the squad in the two halves.
“We kind of know the team that they are, but it is a different ball game.
“That was a friendly and every team wants to start well in these qualifiers.”
Bafana started their era under coach Molefi Ntseki with a morale-boosting win over Mali in the recent Nelson Mandela Challenge in Port Elizabeth.
Ntseki chose Mali to play a friendly with because their style of play is similar to that of Ghana.
“We played well against Mali,” Hlatshwayo said.
“We managed to keep a clean sheet, score and we created a number of chances.
“We know how important it is to go to Ghana, away, get a result and come back against Sudan and do well before we end the year.”