29 June 2017 – He is only 20 years old, but Bafana Bafana defender Tercious Malepe is an experienced campaigner.
In just a short space of time, he has featured prominently at national team level:
- He was part of the SA Olympic Team that won the 2016 COSAFA Cup (Bafana Bafana)
- Played at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with the U23 National Team
- Captain of Amajita at the 2017 COSAFA CUP in Rustenburg (came second to Zambia)
- Captain at the 2017 U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Zambia (finished fourth)
- Captain of Amajita at the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup in Korea.
For his efforts, he has been recalled into the youthful 20-man Bafana Bafana squad for the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup currently underway in Rustenburg.
“I believe it is very important to be in the junior national teams before you can graduate to the senior team because the experience you get there is immeasurable. To be among the youngsters called up into the Bafana Bafana squad in a population of 55 million, is a great honour and we really appreciate the belief the coaches have in us. But you must remember that being an ambassador for your country is not easy because it comes with responsibilities,” said Malepe.
“Being here shows that as youngsters we are doing something right, and we are growing as players. We are also fortunate that our U20 head coach Thabo Senong is part of the setup, and it will be easier for us to gel in the team. He is pushing us very hard. It also shows that irrespective of which division you play, when you do well you will be rewarded.”
With South Africa facing Tanzania in their opening match of the COSAFA Cup, the Orlando Pirates defender is confident of the way forward.
“We have been working hard so we can be sharper, and of course it will not be an easy match. Our supporters will be there and they want results, we have the likes of Lehlogonolo Masalesa, Mario Booysen and Lorenzo Gordinho, unfortunately Aubrey Ngoma had to withdraw from the squad because of injury – but these are the players who are used to playing week in and week out in the PSL, so they have a lot of experience and we sharing ideas as to how to approach this tournament,” added Malepe.
“We are the defending champions but it won’t be easy. We have to be very focused and take one game at a time. The camp has been going very well, and we have been working hard with new coach Stuart Baxter. He has expressed happiness about the squad and that brings more confidence in the players.”
After being part of the previous COSAFA CUP squad, Malepe has some tips for his teammates.
“Let me tell you about the experience I had with Bafana Bafana at last year’s COSAFA CUP tournament – playing African teams is not easy because they are physically strong, but South Africans are good on the ball – so all we need to do is to protect it so the opposition can chase all day, and we turn their strong point into a weakness. We have a good team of mainly youngsters and I believe we can go all the way,” said Malepe.
South Africa face Group A leaders Tanzania on Sunday, 2 July at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Kickoff is at 17h00.