Mbane won't let go of overseas dream

Banyana star defender Bambanani Mbane is not ruling out a move to play abroad. / Gallo Images / Michael Sheehan
Banyana star defender Bambanani Mbane is not ruling out a move to play abroad. / Gallo Images / Michael Sheehan

With local players of her generation such as Linda Motlhalo and most recently Refiloe Jane, among others, profusely moving abroad, Banyana Banyana stalwart Bambanani Mbane is also hopeful of plying her trade overseas at some point.

The 28-year-old is arguably one of the most consistent Banyana defenders in the past three years.

The tough-tackling centre-back is in the books of Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies and is in line to play her second Africa Women's Cup of Nations, to be hosted by Ghana from November 17 to December 1.

Despite her gutsy display for both Celtic and Banyana over the years, the Sterkspruit, Eastern Cape-born centre-back, has not been noticed by overseas clubs.

Nevertheless, Mbane remains optimistic that she will one day secure a coveted overseas switch, drawing inspiration from ex-Kaizer Chiefs veteran Siphiwe Tshabalala who joined Turkish side Erzurumspor, a few weeks before turning 34.

"You cannot stop dreaming. I must be patient. People did not expect Shabba to move overseas at his age but it happened. You just have to continue working hard and believe.

"Even Janine van Wyk, some people thought she was old to get a contract abroad but she joined Houston Dash [in 2016 when she was 30 years old]. The fact that our players are excelling there gives me hope that teams will never stop looking for players in South Africa,'' Mbane said.

Having played in the 2016 edition of the Women's Afcon where Banyana missed out on World Cup qualification after losing to Ghana in the third-place playoffs, Mbane insists they learnt a lot from their abortive campaign in Cameroon.

"This time around we are a different team. We have worked on the mistakes we did in Cameroon. We are ready to fly the nation's flag high,'' declared Mbane.

Banyana are in Group B alongside favourites and defending champions Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya.

They start their campaign against the Super Falcons a day after the opening ceremony.