The odds are heavily stacked against the South African team that emerges from the tunnel onto the pitch – the second-string side is about to go head-to-head with the imposing Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
The ref blows for kick-off and the friendly encounter is under way, although the Bafana youngsters making their debut know there’s nothing friendly about the clash when pride is at stake.
By half time coach Pitso Mosimane has no fewer than 10 debutants on the field, and among them is a diminutive but determined 21-year-old who marshals the side to a 1-0 away win.
“I’ll never forget my Bafana debut – it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to having a permanent place in the side in the future,” says Thandani Ntshumayelo when we meet him at his home in Centurion.
Clad in a stylish cap, brown cargo pants and designer slippers, he escorts us to his one-bedroom pad in his sleek, silver-grey BMW 1 Series convertible, bobbing his head to the booming sounds of house trio MiCasa.
“Welcome to my crib – I don’t have a wife so excuse the mess,” he laughs, as he frantically tidies up. Masses of house CDs and DVDs are neatly stacked on the black wooden TV stand holding a plasma-screen TV.
Thandani, a central midfielder at SuperSport United, is a star on the rise. Although his first Bafana cap in May this year is still fresh in his mind, he’s by no means new on the international stage, having been a pivotal part in the national Under-23 side, AmaGlug-Glug, ever since his debut against Botswana last year.
“I’m ready to fight because we’re on the verge of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics,” he says.
Read the full article in DRUM, 3 November 2011.