Veli Mothwa is hopeful he can inspire Bafana Bafana to glory in the Cosafa Cup
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JOHANNESBURG - As if the year couldn’t get better for Veli Mothwa. Fresh from being nominated as one of the best three goalkeepers in the Premiership last season, Mothwa was appointed as Bafana Bafana captain for the Cosafa Cup.
Mothwa became a professional with Baroka FC in 2013. But due to limited game time he left the club in 2016 to join Gqeberha-based side Chippa United, where he failed to make a single appearance for the Chilli Boys in his first two seasons.
His fortunes changed two seasons ago after the departure of Patrick Tignyemb. He played 21 matches as Chippa avoided relegation on the last day of the season. Last term, Mothwa’s outstanding goalkeeping earned him the No 1 jersey and captaincy role.
But in December last year, Mothwa was signed by AmaZulu as they were targeting a top-four finish under the leadership of the Zungu family who had also brought former striker Benni McCarthy on board as their new coach.
Under McCarthy, AmaZulu and Mothwa thrived. They finished second on the league standings, while he kept 11 clean sheets in 22 matches. Mothwa received his first Bafana call-up for the team’s final two 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. But despite not playing in both matches, against Ghana and Sudan, the South Africans failed to qualify for Afcon in Cameroon. Ahead of his first start between the sticks for Bafana, Mothwa will be hopeful that he can inspire the team to glory.
“It’s going to be a heavy one, but it’s going to be a good one also,” Mothwa said. “When things are a bit tough, you need to step up and help the players that you are playing with. Carrying the nation as a captain, people are looking at what you are doing.”
Mothwa admits that the captaincy means a lot to him. His job is cut out for him, though, given that he is leading a relatively young squad as the national team is trying to turn over a new leaf under new coach Hugo Broos who is back home in Belgium for his Covid-19 vaccine.
“I can’t speak for other players. But when I see young players, who want to reach their goals and are hungry for success, I think this is the future of South Africa when it comes to football. The coach has said that the national team is for everyone,” he said.
Assistant coach Helman Mkhalele, who has already guided the national team to victory against Uganda in a friendly, will sit in the dugout for the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha. The South Africans are in Group A, alongside Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana.
Bafana will begin their campaign against Botswana in Nelson Mandela Bay tomorrow. Gqeberha is quite windy at this time of the year, but Mothwa insists that they are used to the weather as they regularly visit the city for their domestic matches.
“It seems like we are not in South Africa because the wind is against us. But most of the players who play in the professional leagues in South Africa understand the weather. I don’t think the wind will be much of a difficult task to deal with,” Mothwa said.