SIBAYA HAS TO FIRST ARGUE FOOTBALL CASE

MACBETH Sibaya is the son of a lawyer and the nephew of a judge, so it's no surprise that he comes across as someone who shouldn't be messed with.

MACBETH Sibaya is the son of a lawyer and the nephew of a judge, so it's no surprise that he comes across as someone who shouldn't be messed with.

And his full name, Ntuthuko Macbeth Mao Sibaya, hints at his readiness to take extreme actions, both on and off a football pitch.

The tigerish Bafana midfielder, 32, has served occasionally as captain of his country and his club, Russian champions Rubin Kazan.

Sibaya has what too many South African footballers lack: staying power. When he arrived at the unglamorous Rubin from Norwegian club Rosenborg in 2003, his prospects were not rosy.

He had not been a success during his brief spell at Rosenborg, and few expected him to play an instrumental role in Rubin's rise to league title glory.

Seven years later, all expectations have been defied.

Like his Bafana teammate Matthew Booth, Sibaya has made the most of the wealth of the Russian league, where the salaries are lavish and the standard of football is much higher than most South African football followers imagine.

The former Jomo Cosmos star is no ball wizard, and he has taken flak from South African fans for his limited creative skills. But he excels at the simple, unflashy but vital tasks of a defensive midfielder. In recent seasons, his passing and shooting have also improved.

He has also become a celebrated citizen of Kazan, an ancient Tartar city in the south of Russia. But he misses South Africa badly, and travels home to Durban whenever possible to visit his wife and children.

The World Cup is likely to be Sibaya's last international tournament.

He has invaluable experience of the tension and pressure of the biggest stage of all, having starred in Jomo Sono's Bafana team in Japan and South Korea in 2002.

Sibaya is considering a career in law after his retirement from football.

But first, he has a football case to argue: for his continued inclusion in Bafana's starting lineup.

Fast-rising Golden Arrows midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni is challenging hard for his position.

But no matter what role Sibaya ends up playing, he will dedicate every fibre of his being to the cause. The country is fortunate to have him.

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