Johannesburg – Mamelodi Sundowns’ legend Tiyani “Sugar” Mabunda is content with all that he’s achieved during a glittering career that spanned over a decade, saying he's looking forward to his new role of being the Brazilians' club ambassador.
After making his professional breakthrough at hometown club Black Leopards 11 years ago, Mabunda grew in leaps and bounds that he caught the eye of Sundowns’ scouts two years later – uniting with coach Pitso Mosimane at the club.
He wasn’t an instant fit at Sundowns’ engine room. He was shipped out to Free State Stars for the 2014/2015 season. But he took that on the stride, using the experience to fine tune his game ahead of his return to the club for the new term.
Upon his return, Mabunda became a colossal figure for the Brazilians, helping the team clinch multiple championships, including four league titles, the coveted Champions League crown, Super Cup and a handful of domestic trophies.
However, with young blood slowly introduced into the team following restructuring in coaching personnel after Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi took over from Mosimane last season, Mabunda fell down in the pecking order.
But the club rewarded him for his contribution, appointing him as the club's ambassador after his retirement. The 33-year-old, though, has looked back at his glittering career with a glee, saying that he’s achieved all that he had set for himself.
“Honestly, I’ve been having this thought for many, many years. I believe that God has given me a chance to maximise my talent and reach heights that not everyone has managed to reach,” reflected the former defensive engine room maestro.
"To reach that and acquire whatever I’ve acquired can only be by the hand of God. I felt in my spirit that whatever I wanted to achieve as a footballer, God made me achieve. Now I believe God has called me into a different assignment.”
Mabunda added: “I am one person who loves a challenge. I’ve been placed in a different department and I need to excel the same way I’ve did as a footballer. I believe this is the time for God to do whatever that he wants to do with me.”
Mabunda won almost every trophy up for grabs on the continent, except for the MTN8. Despite dominating local football for almost a decade, the Wafa Wafa cup has eluded Sundowns who had to juggle between local and continental football.
But with the CAF calendar tweaked in the past two seasons, Sundowns have been given a chance to focus on local football firstly. It is this season that their fortunes could change in the most rewarding domestic cup competition on the land.
The Brazilians are in the final after defeating Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively. They’ll be away to Cape Town City in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium at the end of the month, October 30.
“This cup has eluded us for a very long time,” conceded Mabunda after the announcement of the World Cup venue as the host of this year’s MTN8 final yesterday. “I think the last time we won a top-eight competition it was still the SAA Top8.
“It is a very important cup for us because we really want to compete in the MTN8. We’ve won everything as a club and the only one that’s actually missed us is this one. We are really forward to bringing this one home (later this month).”