19 July 2017 – Siphiwe Mnguni’s football story reads like a movie script.
All the way from the Vaal, he goes to attend trials at Platinum Stars junior team but is sent away as he is seen not to be good enough. In his disappointment he joins a nearby local team just for a practice session to get over his heartbreak.
At the end of the session he is told to report back at Platinum Stars because the club has received a report from the people he was training with. Mnguni joins the Platinum Stars Academy and is then promoted to the first team the following year where he becomes a regular.
Now he has been called up to the Bafana Bafana squad that will face Botswana in the 2018 CHAN qualifiers.
The 23-year old did not play in the first leg in Francistown where South Africa came away with a 2-0 win, and is itching to play but says he will wait for his turn.
The Platinum Stars defender spoke to SAFA Media at the Bafana Bafana base camp in Rustenburg ahead of the second leg that will take place on Saturday, 22 July 2017 at the Moruleng Stadium.
Matlhomola Morake: How does it like feel being here?
Siphiwe Mnguni: It’s great for me as a young player to be here and been given an opportunity to play in the Bafana Bafana squad because it is every player’s dream to play for the national team and to represent their country, so it has been a great honour to be called up.
MM: The first person you spoke to when you got your call-up?
SP: I called my grandmother first because she has been there for me ever since I was a child, she has fought many battles with me, It wasn’t easy to get where I am and I really wish my grandfather was still around (he passed on in March this year), he would have been the first person I called because he gave me all the support I needed.
MM: So how have you found things in the last few days?
SM: This is my first ever-national team camp and things have been great, everyone has been very welcoming and I am learning a lot. I have seen that things are done differently from club level, but I am enjoying everything and I take everything as a learning curve because each and every day I learn something new.
MM: You didn’t play in the first leg, what did you make of that match?
SP: We had a very good game, we played as we trained and planned. We did what we had to do to win the game, so as a team we did very well.
MM: Being called up is an honour, but playing is a bigger honour….
SP: That’s very true, I am really itching to play because I see this as an opportunity and if I keep on working hard I will eventually get that opportunity to play. It takes time, hard work and determination to be here, so I will take it one day at a time. When the coach sees that its time for to play then I will gladly do so and give 110 percent.
MM: How much are you learning from the experienced guys – Mario, Cole?
SP: Those guys have been here before me and also playing for the likes of Supersport United and Mamelodi Sundowns so we are learning a lot. They don’t have to say anything but you can see by their performance that they are willing to go forward, and fight for the team, and that’s what we take from them.
MM: Personally, you have been doing well. Platinum Stars Academy, just one season in the PSL and now Bafana Bafana?
SP: With everything that has happened I put God first, then hard work follows. I also have a lot of respect for everyone and I remain humble – those attributes have been taught to me by my parents since I was a child. They still apply in football and it has been working well for me so much so that each and every opportunity I get, I should use it properly. In whatever I do daily I take it as a lesson, and I am also aware that everything won’t go my way all the time but every day I must make sure that I give 110 percent and learn because we never stop learning.
MM: At the end of this camp, what for you will be an achievement?
SP: First of all is to win the second leg, I think we did well in Botswana to make sure that that happens, and also getting a run would be one of the things I would like to see happening.
MM: How will being at Bafana Bafana help with your club career, if at all?
SP: It would certainly help a lot because whatever I have learnt here, I will be able to pass on to others back at my club or give back to the team because it is them that gave me an opportunity to play and that led to me being seen and then called up to the national team. I took something from them and now I need to give back somehow.
MM: If the coach were to say Siphiwe you are in the starting line-up on Saturday or Siphiwe go warm up, you are up next, what would go through your mind?
SP: I really don’t know hey but I would be very nervous because as a player that’s what you go through. But once you get on the field everything fades away – but to be honest, I would be the happiest if I got the opportunity to play.