Bafana Bafana skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo wants to become of the greats of the national team. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
 There is something special about Bafana Bafana defenders and the captain’s armband.

Bafana will lock horns with Libya at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday (3pm) in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.

Various players have captained the team in the past, but defenders have proven to be successful as the skipper.

Neil Tovey led Bafana to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 1996, while Lucas Radebe inspired the national team in to the 1998 Afcon final in Burkina Faso and 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea.

It was a similar story with Aaron Mokoena when he propelled Bafana into the Afcon in Ghana in 2008.

Thulani Hlatshwayo is the incumbent skipper and has vowed to build his own legacy.

“I want to create my own legacy by giving all my best. I’m not only intending to create my own legacy at Bafana level but also with my team, Bidvest Wits.

“I also want to create my legacy as the brand, Thulani Hlatshwayo.

“The players you’ve mentioned are the players that I grew up looking to (Tovey, Radebe and Mokoena). You take notes from the best. We learned a lot from them.

“It will be good for them to come and motivate us in the camp but it is good that we have Mokoena (who has been grafted in to Bafana set up as assistant team manager to Burney Kujane in the last few matches for the national team),” Hlatshwayo said.

His tenure as captain started in a remarkable fashion as Bafana dispatched Nigeria for the first time in an official international fixture. They swept past Nigeria 2-0 in their first Afcon qualifier last year.

“That is a sign of great things to come. You can’t beat the Super Eagles’ star-studded team and fail to qualify for the Afcon.

“But as the old saying goes, it is always easier said than done. We still have to beat Libya and Seychelles home and away and finish the job at home against Nigeria.

“As captain, you are the coach in the field of play. You are there to lead the team. We have a lot of leaders in the team. We know what we need to do,” he added.

Bafana missed out in the last Afcon in Gabon in 2017. Their last appearance in the competition was under the guidance of Ephraim Mashaba in 2015 in Equatorial Guinea.

Bafana will he hoping to put Libya to the sword at Moses Mabhida.

The two countries will lock horns in an Afcon qualifier oozing confidence. They both started well in their opening fixtures. Libya trashed Seychelles 5-1.

“We have to make it (to Afcon in Cameroon next year). We don’t have any choice. It wasn’t nice watching the World Cup (on television) - knowing very well that we had an opportunity qualify. We started well, winning against Nigeria.

“I’m sure the coach (Stuart Baxter) has already studied Libya and we have to make sure that we grind the result (against them).

“Moses Mabhida hasn’t been the happy hunting ground for us, but we have to turn the corner. We urge the South Africans to be behind us.”

Hlatshwayo will be hoping to keep up the trend of successful defenders who captain Bafana with distinction.

He will be on course to achieve that should Bafana get the better of Libya.

Success is something which is synonymous with Hlatshwayo as he has already led Wits to greatness in the past few seasons.

He captained Wits to a double in 2016/17 as Wits captured the Absa Premiership title and the MTN8 crown.

Last season, he also led Wits to the Telkom Knockout success.


Sunday Independent

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