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FIFA WORLD CUP CORNER Author: Zola DodaSince South Africa’s re-admission to international football, Mamelodi Sundowns have always had a history of providing Bafana Bafana and other national teams with quality players. During South Africa’s first international match against Cameroon in July 1992; three players in the starting lineup – Mark Anderson, Samuel Kambule and Zane Moosa – were all Sundowns players highlighting the club’s dominance in local football.
The defender was born in KwaMashu and came through the well-known UPE/FCK Soccer School of Excellence before joining Supersport United and making his professional debut during the 2002/03 season. Gaxa joined Sundowns in 2008 and continued with his rich vein of form making 34 appearances during his first season in Chloorkop.
When coach Hristo Stoitchkov joined Sundowns in June 2009, he continued with Gaxa as his first choice rightback and the defender did not disappoint.
Gaxa was one of four Mamelodi Sundowns players named in Bafana Bafana’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira where he had to compete with future Mamelodi Sundowns player, Anele Ngcongca for a place in the starting lineup, who later joined The Brazilians in 2016.
When the starting line-up for the opening match against Mexico was announced, it came as no surprise that he was a preferred choice because of his experience. The Sundowns right back had a solid performance next to captain Aaron Mokoena, Bongani Khumalo and Lucas Thwala during the 1-1 draw against Mexico and his pass to Teko Modise with 15 minutes remaining almost resulted in a penalty in favour of Bafana.
For the second match against Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld, Parreira made only one change at the back introducing Tsepo Masilela for Thwala and Gaxa continued at rightback.
But the Sundowns defender was relegated to the bench, making way for Ngcongca in the last group match against France.
An overlapping rightback who could also play at centerback, Mnguni joined Sundowns from amateur side, Republican Brothers, before making his professional debut during the 1994 season. By the beginning of the 1997/98 campaign, when he was 23, the rightback was already an established player in the star-studded Sundowns team which had players like John Tlale, Dan Malesela, Joas Magolego and Isaac Shai.
Mnguni had an impressive 1997/98 PSL season where he made a record breaking 48 appearances and helped The Brazilians win the League and Bob Save Super Bowl.
The Mamelodi Sundowns captain had three Bafana Bafana caps ahead of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France but failed to break into Phillippe Troussier’s starting line-up with the Frenchman preferring Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Willem Jackson and David Nyathi in defence.
The Mamelodi-born watched all Bafana Bafana’s Group C matches against France, Denmark and Saudi Arabia from the bench as the team was knocked out in the first round of the tournament.
Between 2002 and 2009, the towering center back spent seven years playing in Russia for FC Rostov and Krylia Sovetov making a total of 158 appearances.
After seven years playing in Europe against some of the toughest forwards, in 2009, the defender joined Mamelodi Sundowns with the hope of increasing his chances of getting selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During the 2009 FIFA Confederation Cup played in South Africa, Booth was a regular feature in Joel Santana’s squad and played in all the matches against Iraq, New Zealand and featured twice against Spain.
The Sundowns defender was selected by Carlos Alberto Parreira for the 2010 FIFA World Cup even though he was an unused substitute in all of Bafana Bafana’s Group A matches against Mexico, Uruguay and France.
The midfielder was already 23 years old when he joined HP Silver Stars ahead of the 2003/04 season and his star continued to rise despite his late entry into professional football.
After scoring an impressive eight goals from midfield in 31 appearances for Stars, he joined Sundowns ahead of the 2004/05 PSL season and won the 2005/06 PSL ‘Player of the Season’ after helping Sundowns win the league.
During his debut campaign with Masandawana, the defender stamped his authority and helped the team win the league, which increased his chances of making the Ghana squad ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Sumaila was a substitute in Ghana’s Group G matches against United States of America, Germany and Portugal.
He moved to France at a young age where he played for RC Strasbourg and Stade de Reims and after a short stint in the French Ligue 1, the forward joined Supersport United before securing a move to Mamelodi Sundowns at the beginning of the 2008/09 season.
But after scoring just five goals during his first season at Chloorkop, a lot of questions were asked about his ability to convert chances.
It took an unforgettable free kick goal against Spain during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup to remind supporters why Mphela was rated one of the best strikers this country has ever produced.
By the time Katlego was selected to lead Bafana Bafana attack at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he was 25 years old and at the peak of his career.
The Sundowns forward played 90 minutes in all Bafana Bafana’s Group A matches against Mexico, Uruguay and France where he scored the second goal in the 2-1 win against Les Bleus.
So far, the former player remains the only Sundowns player to score at the FIFA World Cup.