Bafana Bafana head into their 8th Africa Cup of Nations with the slightest age group difference of all the squads
Posted: 18 January 2013 Time: 7:33 pm
Bafana Bafana head into their 8th Africa Cup of Nations with the slightest age group difference of all the squads that have ever represented the country at the continent’s biggest football competition.
Just nine years separate the oldest and youngest player in the current squad with Orlando Pirates defender Siyabonga Sangweni the 'elder’ at 31 while Tokelo Rantie is the ‘baby’ at 22.
The age difference between the oldest and youngest players in all the squads that have represent Mzansi at all the seven previous tournaments that Bafana has competed in has never been a single figure like it is this year.
The biggest age difference has been 15 years which was at the Burkina Faso finals in 1998 when Jomo Sono took a then 17 year-old Aaron Mokoena and 32 year-old John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu in the same squad.
Six years later at the finals played in Tunisia Moshoeu – 38 by then – and Mokoena who was 23 were still the oldest and youngest in the squad with that 15 years gap remaining intact.
Ironically, Shoes remains the oldest player to be selected for the Afcon finals at 38 while Mbazo remains the youngest squad member as he had just turned 17 when he went to the 1998 finals.
When Bafana first appeared at the Afcon finals – hosted by the country in 1996 - Neil Tovey was the oldest at 33 while Mark Fish the youngest at 21 leaving a 12 years gap between the two.
At the 2000 finals Moshoeu was again the grootman at 34, 13 years older than Steve Lekoelea who was 21.
In 2002 Andre Arendse was the oldest at 34 with Mbazo again the youngest at 21 – a 13 years age group remained in place again.
When Bafana travelled to the disastrous 2006 finals in Egypt Pierre Issa – remember him – was the oldest at 30 while Lebohang ‘Cheeseboy’ Mokoena aged 19.
The last time that Bafana were at the AFCON finals in 2008 the then 32 year-old Sibusiso Zuma was the oldest with Tumelo Nhlapo – called in as a late replacement – the youngest after celebrating his 20th birthday on the day the tournament started.