Aubrey Modiba is relishing his opportunity to play for Bafana Bafana. Photo: BackPagePix
The snub that resulted in Aubrey Modiba missing the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt toughened the SuperSport United player instead of breaking him down.

Modiba, because of his versatility to play at left-back and on the left wing, was a surprise omission in the Bafana squad that reached the quarter-finals at Afcon. His ability to play in two different positions makes him a good player to have in tournament football where the turnaround time is short. Bafana’s two Afcon 2021 qualifiers against Ghana tomorrow at Cape Coast, and Sudan on Sunday at Orlando Stadium are like tournament football of some sort. The team will have a short time to prepare and play two gruelling games in a couple of days.

“Not being at Afcon made me strong as a player. When you don’t get a call-up you can’t just look down,” Modiba said. “I wouldn’t say that it was a setback, it made me stronger as a player and pushed me to continue working hard for my team which is why I welcome this return.”

Modiba has returned to the Bafana fold in a team that has a number of players who featured at the Rio Olympics with the Under-23s. Lebo Mothiba, Mothobi Mvala and Thapelo Morena were also in Brazil and will be looking to help Bafana earn a ticket to Cameroon by starting well in the first two Afcon qualifiers.

“I am happy to be back in the national team, it shows that my effort was recognised by the coach,” Modiba said. “I am just happy to be part of the setup. Obviously, it’s not a good thing for a player to not see their name in the national team squad whenever its announced. But there is a certain number that needs to be there. It doesn’t feel great, but you can’t just dwell on that and look down, you have to rise up and continue working hard. If the call up comes, it will come but just keep doing well for your team.”

Modiba’s best quality, his versatility, also counts against him. When the national team selects left-backs, they usually select those who they feel are the best just like they do with wingers, leaving Modiba in a precarious position of being talented but not good enough to be the first pick in those positions for Bafana.

“It plays into my advantage, in terms of the fact that the coach can put you wherever he wants because he knows what you can do in certain positions,” Modiba said. “I feel special to be that kind of player. At times it plays into my advantage, but at times it works against men because some coaches prefer to have a natural player in the position. I am not focusing on that because as a player you want to play each and every game. When the coach calls you and says you have to play here, you just have to prepare yourself mentally.”

Meanwhile, Minenhle Mkhize reports that former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana defender Tshepo Masilela is not yet ready to play a full match.

Masilela recently penned a deal with AmaZulu and made his debut for his new club last weekend, coming on as a second-half substitute in Usuthu’s defeat to Chippa United.

According to coach Jozef Vukusic, the defender explained that he was not ready to play 90 minutes of football.

“I was happy for him to start this match but it was his decision to start from the bench. He stated that he is not 100% fit to start the game,” said Vukusic. The coach was impressed by the player’s honesty.

“It was very professional of Tsepo to state that he is not 100% fit to start the game. He told me that he can play some 45 minutes, but not the whole game,” he added.

Bonginkosi Ndadane