CAPE TOWN - After being on national duty with Bafana Bafana over the last few days, Thabo Nodada, Thami Mkhize and Gift Links can’t wait to link up with their Cape Town City teammates.
This weekend sees the opening round of the Telkom Knockout Cup, but the City trio won’t be thrust into immediate action because the Citizens’ fixture is only scheduled for next Tuesday. The Cape side has been drawn to face AmaZulu at the Princess Magogo Stadium.
For Bafana’s recently-completed back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Seychelles, Nodada was in the squad right from the start, while Mkhize and Links were called in as replacements for injured players. Now, as City prepare for another Cup competition, having recently won the MTN8, they are expecting a big showing from their Bafana players.
For Links, particularly, it has been a spectacular year. He only turned 20 two weeks ago, but already his career is on the rise. In January, he landed a high-profile move to Pyramids FC in Egypt and went on to reach a Cup semi-final with his club. In June, he was named in Bafana’s Cosafa Cup squad and, a month later, he arrived in the Mother City as another top-class signing for City. Last month, he played an influential role as the Cape side took the MTN8 competition.
Links spoke about his latest call-up to the squad and about Bafana’s 6-0 drubbing of the Seychelles at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg at the weekend. He wasn’t in the match-day squad for the game - but he understands that the experience gained from being part of the national team set-up will stand him in good stead in the future.
“It felt great to be called to the senior team,” said Links. “I’ve always wanted to be part of the national team. The win against (the) Seychelles on Saturday was great. We had a great game and we managed to collect the maximum points, which was really good for the squad. Our goal is to get to Afcon 2019. We want to do it for the nation and I’m pretty sure that we will do it.”
Links said, even though he came in as a late replacement to the squad, he never felt out of place. “I fitted in well and the players welcomed me nicely,” he said. “I am looking forward to having more camps with Bafana, and the coach has been good; it is not the first time I’m working with him.”
Telkom Knockout first round fixtures:
Saturday: Sundowns v Celtic; Pirates v Chippa; Maritzburg v Highlands Park; Free State Stars v Wits; Baroka v Arrows
Sunday: Chiefs v Leopards; Polokwane City v SuperSport
Tuesday: AmaZulu v Cape Town City (Princess Magogo Stadium, 7.30pm)