Five most capped Bafana Bafana players

Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune during a training session at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on September 6 2018.
Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune during a training session at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on September 6 2018.
Image: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Itumeleng Khune moved into second on the all-time caps list for Bafana Bafana on Tuesday‚ continuing to grow his legend in the national team jersey.

He is in illustrious company near the top of the list‚ along with other legendary names in the history of the national team.

In celebration of Khune’s feat‚ TimesLIVE looks at the top five most capped players for South Africa.

BENEDICT MCCARTHY

Caps: 80

Debut: v Netherlands‚ 4 June‚ 1997

Last cap: v Brazil‚ 7 September‚ 2012

McCarthy is SA’s leading scorer at international level with 31 goals in his 80 caps during a 15-year Bafana career that had plenty of ups and downs.

From the four goals scored in 13 minutes against Namibia in the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals‚ to bust-ups with the SA Football Association (Safa) and time out of the national team through personal choice.

There is no doubt though that he is the most accomplished striker to don the national team jersey‚ and was named Player of the Tournament at those 1998 continental finals‚ contributing seven goals in all as Bafana finished second behind Egypt.

He remains the only player to net an international hat-trick for Bafana.

Perhaps his biggest disappointment was missing out on selection for the 2010 World Cup on home soil‚ having scored Bafana’s first-ever goal at the showpiece event against Denmark in 1998.

His final cap lasted just 11 minutes when he was recalled by Gordon Igesund against Brazil in 2012.

SIYABONGA NOMVETE

Caps: 82

Debut: v Trinidad‚ 6 May‚ 1999

Last cap: v Gabon‚ 15 June‚ 2012

Forward Nomvethe is still playing professional football at the age of 40 for AmaZulu‚ though he recently announced his retirement at the end of this current season.

He netted 16 goals in 82 caps for Bafana‚ though it should be noted that he was used as a wide player for much of his career as well‚ with his electric pace and high work-rate admired by many coaches down the years.

He played at four Afcon finals between 2000 and 2006‚ but his career looked over a year later as other options were preferred.

However‚ a renaissance in his form saw him selected for the 2010 World Cup‚ where he played in the 2-1 win over France.

He continued to play for another couple of years before being dropped by Igesund‚ who had ironically revived his career at Moroka Swallows.

SIPHIWE TSHABALALA

Caps: 89

Debut: v Egypt‚ 14 January‚ 2006

Last cap: v Senegal‚ 10 November‚ 2017

Tshabalala’s international career only recently ended when he was a surprise call-up for the finale to the World Cup qualifiers last year‚ his final cap against Senegal coming some four years after his previous one.

Having debuted in the squad that went to the 2006 Afcon finals under Ted Dumitru‚ which proved a disaster with zero points and zero goals‚ Tshabalala was perhaps the finest selection made for that tournament.

He would go on to cement a regular place and earn a reputation for spectacular goals‚ none more so than his World Cup opener against Mexico in 2010.

If you were to compile a list of the top 10 Bafana goals of all time‚ Tshabalala would feature prominently‚ and he was a mostly consistent performer in a national team jersey‚ though less effective as his pace began to fade.

ITUMELENG KHUNE

Caps: 90

Debut: v Zimbabwe‚ 11 March‚ 2008

Last cap: v Seychelles‚ 16 October‚ 2018

Khune earned his 90th cap against the Seychelles on Tuesday‚ moving him past Tshabalala on the list and making him comfortably the most capped goalkeeper for the national side after Andre Arendse (67).

Khune has been Bafana’s undisputed number one for the last decade and might have topped 100 caps already were it not for injuries that have kept him sidelined for long spells.

It is hard to pick out a bad game for in a national team jersey‚ perhaps his most disappointing being the 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the World Cup when he was red-carded‚ and the 3-1 loss to Mauritania in the Afcon qualifiers when an uncharacteristic howler set the West Africans up for a famous win.

For the most part though he has been a model of consistency and at times the rock upon which matches have been won.

His distribution remains world-class and a real attacking weapon for Bafana.

AARON MOKOENA

Caps: 107

Debut: v Botswana‚ 20 February 1999

Last cap: v Sierra Leone‚ 10 October‚ 2010

Mokoena was a stalwart of the Bafana defence for more than a decade and at the time was the youngest player to feature for the national side when he made his debut against Botswana in the Cosafa Cup aged 18 years‚ two months and 26 days‚ a record that has since been surpassed.

He enjoyed a long and successful career in Europe‚ but never shirked the responsibility of coming home to play for SA‚ a stance that boosted his number of caps while others were less committed.

His only national team goal came in a famous 1-0 win in Zambia in 2006‚ still one of Bafana’s best `way wins against what was a very strong opponent.

Mokoena also captained Bafana on 63 occasions‚ including at the 2010 World Cup.

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