CAPE TOWN - One man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, which is why Cape Town City right-back Thami Mkhize is hoping to make the most of his belated call-up to the Bafana Bafana squad to tackle Seychelles in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon (3pm).
The opportunity may be via the back door, but it is certainly well deserved and overdue. With an injury to Mamelodi Sundowns’ Thapelo Morena, Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter this week drafted Mkhize in as a late replacement. Mkhize has two previous appearances for Bafana, but he has recently been ignored by Baxter.
Despite the City defender being among the most consistent performers, the Bafana coach has always preferred Kaizer Chiefs’ Ramahlwe Mphahlele on the right side of the national side’s defence. In Bafana’s previous match - a 0-0 draw with Libya - Mphahlele’s performance didn’t inspire too much confidence.
There had been suggestions that Baxter would look more closely at Mkhize for the clash with Seychelles - but, when the team was announced, the City man was again a notable omission. Now, with Morena injured, Baxter had no choice but to get Mkhize in - and, while belated, the player’s presence will have a positive effect on Bafana.
“I accept this call-up with gratitude,” said Mkhize. “Any opportunity to represent my country is something I will always take great pride in. We’ve got a big task on our hands. I will do all I can to help Bafana over the line. That’s my nature, and I’m sure the other players in the Bafana squad also feel this way.”