He understands the weight that is carried by his last name but this has not deterred Mihlali Mayambela as continues to plot his own path to success.

The 26-year-old Mayambela is one of the players who will be competing for a place in the lineup when Bafana Bafana face Liberia in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at Orlando Stadium on Friday 24 March (kick off is at 18h00), and he said comparison to his older brother Mark has followed him for many years now.

“It was hard in the beginning because I was compared to my brother Mark all the time, and so I almost stopped playing football. I left South Africa at the age of 18 daring to be different, to be my own man, my own player and for the comparison to stop, and it worked, luckily for me,” said the Aris Limassol forward.

He smiles when asked about getting a call-up and playing for his country, although he has been more abroad than at home in the last eight years. “It’s such a great feeling. I know I was in denial, especially my debut when I only really believed that I got the nod when I saw it on the television, that made it real for me.”

Mayambela made his debut in September 2022, and finding the back of the net against Sierra Leone was the cherry on top. “My family drove from Cape Town to see my game. My son was in the stands and that moment will stand out forever. One day I would like to show him that game and just how much I hold onto it. I would encourage him to go for his dreams like I did mine, even if he wants to follow in my footsteps and play football, that’s OK too.”

The striker says that whether you’re in Cypress, Sweden, Portugal or South Africa,  from the moment the whistle goes it’s about the game, the tempo, the desire and will to win. While he has only been in camp for about 24 hours, he says the passion and sheer determination of the squad burns bright.

He has no doubt that come this time next year, the nation will be celebrating something spectacular.