Grant Young shares his New Zealand experience with Bafana

2014-05-29 08:21

Former Bafana Bafana striker Grant Young paid the national team a surprise visit during their training at the Takapuna Sports Complex in New Zealand.

The former Hellenic player has been living in New Zealand for 10 years, where he played for Auckland City FC together with the late Keryn Jordan.

While he fancied South Africa’s chances against The All Whites in their international friendly match at the MT Smart Stadium at 7.30pm (9.30am South African time) tomorrow, he also had a warning for the team.

“I think they will give our guys a tough game as they have a number of good young players,” he said. “But they also have a number of senior players who are out with injuries. I expect a good crowd at the game as people here love football, much as rugby is their number one sport. There are also a lot of youngsters who play football here.”

He pointed out that even though New Zealand soccer did well at junior level, they struggled at senior level as their league is semiprofessional and most sponsors support rugby.

He was impressed with what he saw from Bafana against Australia in their match on Monday night.

“I saw bits and pieces of the game and from what I saw, I think it was a good game and the boys played well. All games are important. As a player, you need to test yourself against all kinds of opposition, weak and strong.”

Reminiscing about his days at Bafana Bafana, the former Hellenic marksman said: “There was no money then as we only played for the love of the game. At Bafana Bafana, we earned R5 000, which was made up of a R2 500 appearance fee and R2 500 win bonus.”

The retired player, who now works for a printing company but want to get into coaching at some stage, left South Africa 10 years ago as a 33-year-old. He retired last year.

He had some good experiences in New Zealand and his club made it twice to the Fifa Club World Cup, even beating one of Africa’s best in TP Mazembe 3-2 in 2009. But they went out in the quarterfinals, losing to Club de Fútbol Atlante of Mexico, an improvement from their first appearance in 2006, where they lost every game, failed to score a single goal and crashed out in the opening stages.

In that event, they lost to another African giant, Al Ahly of Egypt, who beat them 2-0.

Young enquired about his peers Doctor Khumalo, Mark Williams and others and when told that John “Shoes” Moshoeu was still an assistant coach who played, he quipped: “Maybe I should consider coming back to playing now that he is beating me on that score.”

He ruled out coming back to South Africa as he “started a young family here”, he said, pointing to a daughter who is still a toddler.

Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund also received a surprise when Stephen Vuksich, the son of Irvine Vuksich who owns Auckland City FC, presented him with the number 14 jersey that was worn by Jordan during his tenure at the club.

Jordan, who succumbed to cancer last October after battling it for 12 years, played a key role in Igesund’s championship-winning Manning Rangers team in 1997 and always acknowledged him as his mentor

» Mseleku is New Zealand courtesy of Safa

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