Buhle Mkhwanazi vital cog in Bafana machine

31 March 2019 - 14:53
By Sazi Hadebe
Bafana Bafana and Wits centre-back Buhle Mkhwanazi is as tough as nails.
Bafana Bafana and Wits centre-back Buhle Mkhwanazi is as tough as nails.

Buhle Mkhwanazi has quietly gone about doing a sterling job for both South Africa and his club, Bidvest Wits.

So quietly you probably did not even see him doing it.

Mkhwanazi's centre-back job, and the manner in which he carries it out, is a thankless one because he's not flashy, but if you pay enough attention you'll realise how much ground he's actually covered.

Mkhwanazi has featured in all 90 minutes of Bafana Bafana's last five Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying games, playing alongside his Wits and Bafana skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo at the heart of the defence.

That tells a story of how dependable he's been for the national team on their path to Egypt 2019, and how quietly efficient too because, in all honesty, who noticed him there?

The Bloemfontein-born centre-back is, however, not nearly as quiet a figure when he's talking football off the field.

He's a great listener and his answers mirror that of an experienced communicator who's faced many challenges and questions in his life.

Mkhwanazi is ecstatic about Bafana qualifying for Afcon and feels the team have done well enough that they can be among the strong contenders at the showpiece in Egypt in June and July.

"We are obviously happy that we managed to win against Libya [2-1] last Sunday," said Mkhwanazi, who was again a solid presence in Bafana's victory in Tunisia that clinched qualification.

"It wasn't easy because if you can check, the referee was on their side, somehow, but we managed to go through. They won a penalty that was not a penalty, but we managed to get Percy Tau giving us the victory.

"But the team as a whole really did play a huge part in letting Bafana go to Egypt," he said.

Asked what he thinks Bafana Bafana can do in Egypt, Mkhwanazi displayed his defensive skills to the maximum, diplomatically avoiding putting anyone under pressure while also not ruling out a strong showing.