1 August 2017 – Yusuf Bunting went into the recently concluded SAB U21 National Championships hoping to do enough to prove that he is ready to make the step up to the professional ranks.
What followed was something that also shocked him as he scored 12 goals in five matches. The most incredible thing about his feat is that he had to play two matches in one day last Tuesday.
Bunting announced himself in emphatic fashion in the first match of the tournament, scoring a hat-trick as Gauteng beat Eastern Cape 3-2. The 21-year-old striker from Lenasia did it again in the final, scoring a hat-trick against USSA, setting Gauteng to a 3-3 draw in regulation time, with the province eventually going on to win the tournament 4-1 on penalties.
In the final, Gauteng were trailing 2-0 after 15 minutes, but Bunting worked some mean magic, scoring a hat trick that saw Gauteng lead the match 3-2. USSA only equalised in the 89th minute, though they could not defend their title.
For Bunting, the tournament was one where he could show South Africa that he is a real talent.
“I was hungry. I think that is why I managed to do what I did. I had a great team around me and if it was not for their amazing supply, I could not have managed to do that. I also had a great coach in Tumelo Ndaba. He was a great mentor to us and he believes in me. He played me where I could be most effective,” Bunting said.
“The first hat-trick against Eastern Cape surprised me because I did not think I would start the tournament like that. Once I got those three goals, I knew I could get more. I have been working hard on my movement and reading of the game and it helped. I am just glad we could win this tournament,” Bunting said.
The striker, who also plays for the Kaizer Chiefs development side under Arthur Zwane said he feels ready to make the step up to the first team and one day wants to play in the Soweto Derby.
“I watched the derby this past Saturday and playing in front of 90 000 people has to be amazing. I want to play in that match one day,” Bunting said.
“I also feel ready to play in the PSL. It is not easy there but you have guys like Teboho Mokoena who come from the SAB U21 National Championships doing well. I feel I can also do the same. I am confident that if I could get a chance, I can do well not just for myself but also for the guys I was playing with and against at the tournament in Soweto,” Bunting said.
The talented forward was also named the competition’s Player of the Tournament.