Ndulula following in the footsteps of legends

Bongani Ndulula is continuing a tradition of AmaZulu excellence in Bafana Bafana, having netted his second goal for the national team in the 2-0 win away to Congo on Saturday.

The 24-year-old striker is a newcomer to senior international football, having only made his Bafana debut in the 3-0 win away to Sudan in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers last month.

However, he is quickly establishing himself as a key member of the national team squad under coach Shakes Mashaba.

Not only did he score on debut against Sudan, he netted a vital – and brilliantly executed – overhead kick against Congo to send South Africa on their way to a 2-0 win in Pointe-Noire.

AmaZulu have not provided many players to Bafana in recent times, but the club certainly has a rich history of players and coaches who have served the senior national team.

In the past decade, the likes of Bafo Biyela, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Dumisani Ngwenya, Bennett Chenene and Marc van Heerden have had opportunities to represent Bafana Bafana, though none went on to establish themselves as regulars.

Current AmaZulu team manager Japhet Zwane also earned nine caps in his career, though none of them were during his playing years with the Durban club.

For the ‘golden age’ of the AmaZulu-Bafana link, one needs to look to the 1990s. AmaZulu legend George Dearnaley earned three national team caps, but it is really the contributions of Neil Tovey and coach Clive Barker that stand out.

Admittedly Tovey, who captained Bafana Bafana to 1996 AFCON glory, earned all 52 of his caps while playing club football for Kaizer Chiefs, but as both a former player and coach of AmaZulu he is certainly an example of international excellence that Usuthu can be very proud of.

And Barker – a man who will forever be remembered as a legendary figure in the history of AmaZulu – was the coach who guided Bafana to that Nations Cup triumph on home soil, with John Moshoeu another former AmaZulu man who was a key figure.

Ndulula need not concern himself with such comparisons – he is only at the start of his Bafana career – but he will be an important figure for Bafana Bafana when they host Congo for the return match in Polokwane on Wednesday night.

“We’re happy to have registered a win in Congo, it wasn’t an easy game but it’s past now – our preparations are going well and we know our duty,” said Ndulula.

“This is a must win for us as we’d like to ensure we qualify for next year’s tournament and they’re under pressure we know so it’s not going to be an easy one.

“We have not qualified yet and the coach (Mashaba) has made it clear that it’s a new ball game, so we need to be disciplined,” added the man known as ‘Drogba’, who played down his brilliant goal at the weekend.

“I’m happy I managed to score a crucial goal for the team and it’s any player’s dream to score for the national team.

“My focus though is on helping the team not about me as an individual – it’s all about us as a team.”

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