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21 Jul 2017 00:00
Cool customer: Teboho Mokoena stepped up to the challenge of his international debut with aplomb. (Charle Lombard/Gallo Images)
Stuart Baxter is convinced that the future Bafana Bafana squad could be built around young Teboho Mokoena. He is the creative SuperSport United midfielder who dominated proceedings during the first leg of the African Nations Championship tie against, and in, Botswana last week.
It is normal for a player to have nerves on his international debut.
But 19-year-old Mokoena took charge of proceedings as the creative force and at times initiated lightning-fast counterattacks in a near faultless performance that earns him our Real Makoya gong.
“Tebza is such an immensely talented boy,” commented Baxter at the end of the match.
“I would have loved to use him in the second leg in Rustenburg. But his club has requested him and I have to respect their wishes. I have no doubt that with more such games under his belt, he could effortlessly make the move up to the senior Bafana set-up in no time. But I have been satisfied about his contribution.”
Mokoena stood head and shoulders above his peers at the Francistown stadium.
He was such a dominant force that, besides creating the second goal, it was unfortunate when one of his efforts cannoned against the upright and rebounded late in the game.
“I was extremely happy and satisfied about my contribution,” said Mokoena, who was a member of the South African U-20 squad that participated in the Fifa World Cup in Korea early this year.
“The coach simply told us that it was all about the team, that we should play for the team and for the badge, otherwise I really had an enjoyable outing and taking part in the CAF Confederation Cup tournament with my club certainly prepared me for the challenge.”
Mokoena admitted that he also wanted to feature in the second-leg match but will respect the decision of his club to withdraw him, because it was something that was beyond his control.
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