After a scintillating season at AmaZulu, Veli Mothwa’s stock has risen substantially over the past 12 months, with his appointment as Bafana Bafana captain for the Cosafa Cup solid proof of that.
The keeper has been rejuvenated at Ushutu this past season where, under Benni McCarthy, he helped guide AmaZulu to a second-place finish as he kept 11 clean sheets in 22 matches.
Mothwa has not had a straightforward career path after turning professional with Baroka FC in 2013. However, after struggling to break into the team, he made the move to Chippa United but again failed to make a single appearance for the Chilli Boys in his first two seasons.
He finally got his shot at the Chilli Boys in the 2019-20 campaign where he proved his worth helping the club avoid relegation on the final days as the No 1 keeper and captain.
However, after the move to AmaZulu Mothwa has continued to grow and now is set to make his first appearance in the national team and as captain.
“It’s going to be a heavy one, but it’s going to be a good one also,” Mothwa said. “When things are a bit tough, you need to step up and help the players that you are playing with. Carrying the nation as a captain, people are looking at what you are doing.”
Mothwa admits that the captaincy means a lot to him. His job is cut out for him, though, given that he is leading a relatively young squad.
“I can’t speak for other players. But when I see young players, who want to reach their goals and are hungry for success, I think this is the future of South Africa when it comes to football. The coach has said that the national team is for everyone,” he said.
Bafana will be without head coach Hugo Broos, who is in Europe receiving his second Covid-19 vaccination, with assistant coach Helman Mkhalele in charge for the tournament. Mkhalele has already helped the national team to victory over Uganda in a friendly, and will be hoping to guide Bafana out of Group A, where they sit alongside Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana.
Bafana will begin their campaign against Botswana in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday afternoon, where weather conditions are set to play a part.
“It seems like we are not in South Africa because the wind is against us. But most of the players who play in the professional leagues in South Africa understand the weather. I don’t think the wind will be much of a difficult task to deal with,” Mothwa concluded.
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