Yeye’s 2010 prophecy fulfilled

2010-06-08 00:00

RENEILWE Letsholonyane’s dramatic rise to the Bafana Bafana’s World Cup squad, and what now even seems likely to be a starting place in Friday’s opening game against Mexico at Soccer City, might have come as a surprise to some, but not to the midfielder himself.

The Kaizer Chiefs central player, popularly known by his nickname, “Yeye”, was Bafana’s man-of-the-match with a dominant display in central midfield in the confidence-boosting 1-0 victory against Denmark in Pretoria on Saturday.

It was a performance that in all likelihood has nailed down a starting place for the dynamic, box-to-box, dreadlocked midfielder in the centre of Bafana’s midfield against Mexico. But Letsholonyane says his meteoric rise has not come as a surprise to him.

“Four years ago when I was still at Jomo Cosmos and did my first interview, I told the journalist that I am going to be in the World Cup team,” the midfielder told a packed press conference in Sandton yesterday.

“Two years later when I joined Kaizer Chiefs I told my friends that I will be part of the team and last year I told [Chiefs team-mate] Arthur Zwane the same thing.”

While Letsholonyane’s rise was a hot topic of the press conference, it was Moeneeb Josephs who provided the fireworks when he had a go at a perceived overly negative section of the press.

Bafana’s number two goalkeeper was asked if there was a danger of the 12-match unbeaten South Africans being complacent against Mexico.

“You know, I think for us players there’s no complacency — there’s a World Cup ahead of us; we’re playing in one of the biggest competitions of our lives,” Josephs said.

“I think the suggestion of complacency is like most of our local media here who just want to be negative. We are Bafana Bafana, we are representing millions of people, and it’s a dream for us.

“It’s a world stage and the thing we’ve dreamt of most of our lives, and here we have an opportunity to play in it. I don’t think complacency even comes to mind here.

“We want to do well for ourselves, for our coach and for the people. All those ones who are on the streets and when we see them we go and shake their hands and you can see the passion in their eyes when they tell us ‘make us proud’.”

Asked if the negativity is a new occurrence, Josephs replied: “It’s been around a long time. Just journalists trying to bring us down.

“We’re professional footballers, we want to play to the best of our ability and then we get this trying to compare us to overseas leagues that have been running for years and years ahead of us.

“I think it’s just been one big rollercoaster with this negativity. But with the World Cup, and our turnaround we’ve seen the positive press that’s come from that.

“Hopefully all those negative ones will jump on board too.”

Letsholonyane said Bafana are taking the huge weight of expectation that has been on their shoulders in their stride.

“There’s always pressure because we’re not just representing ourselves but the whole nation, and we need to repay them.

“There’s pressure, but we’re coping with that pressure and it motivates us as to make out nation proud,” the midfielder said.

Katlego Mphela, who scored his 12th international goal against Denmark and will shoulder the responsibility of goal-scoring for Bafana subsequent to Benni McCarthy’s exclusion from the final squad, said he has no problem playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.

“As long as I’ve got players who understand me, and players who are going to give me the ball, there’s no problem.

“So far I’ve been doing very well up-front. Create chances for me and I’ll score goals,” the Mamelodi Sundowns player said.

Bafana checked in yesterday to the Sturrock Park ground on the Wits University campus that will be their base camp for the World Cup.

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