6 July 2022 – His peers at Mamelodi Sundowns academy baptized him, Marcelo. And that’s because Siyanda Msani’s ball control is impeccable and prefers pulling double shifts by helping out in attack while keeping matters tight at the back.

His head coach at the University of Pretoria (AmaTuks), Tlisane Motaung, adored him, fielding him in a total of 36 matches in all competitions, not letting him miss out on a single minute of those games. Msani played in all  30 NFD league matches, three Nedbank Cup fixtures and three PSL Promotion Playoff games — where they lost to Swallows FC in the final day of the playoffs.

The 21-year old wingback credits his capacity to consistently play at this demanding level to one of SAFA’s contributing Sports Scientists, Muzi Maluleke, adding that he played an integral role in his physical fitness being able to consistently perform and thus earning his first Bafana Bafana call-up.

The Umlazi-born defender is no stranger to South Africa’s national team setups, having previously earned two caps under coach Helman Mkhalele at the 2019 All Africa Games out in Morocco.

“The training at AmaTuks played a very important role for me to perform at a level that I did for them last season,” Msani said. “Credit must go to coach Maluleke, who really pushed our physical fitness as a team, which resulted in me not getting a single injury. 

“My goal has always been to represent my nation on a senior level and I’m truly grateful to have been given this opportunity,” Msani added. “I have worked with coach Helman Mkhalele before and I know what he wants and expects from his players. I’ve served under his leadership at the 2019 All Africa Games and, to be here, means that I’m doing something right in my growth as a professional footballer.

“I just need to continue building from those performances both here and at club level.”

South Africa go into this year’s COSAFA Cup tournament as defending champions after beating Senegal on penalties in last year’s final. Msani said he was looking forward to his first COSAFA tournament, adding that it is every one’s intention in the Bafana Bafana camp to go all the way in defending their Southern regional football tournament title. 

The senior men’s national side will begin their campaign with a quarter-final tie against Mozambique on 13 July. That match will take place at Princess Magogo Stadium at 17h00.

“This is my first COSAFA Cup tournament and my dream is to do everything in my power to help the national side defend the title,” Msani concluded.