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Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena

Posted: 30 May 2010 Time: 09:29

When Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena leads his team onto the field against Guatamala in a friendly international match on Monday, he will be entering into the record books. 

Mokoena will be making his 100th appearance for the national team – a feat not achieved before.   It has been a long road for him and it took him eleven years to reach this milestone. He shares the journey:   Q: How does it feel reaching this milestone, something that has never been done before?   A: I am very privileged and I feel honoured to be the first player to reach a milestone of hundred caps. It means a lot to me. Words can never describe how I feel about getting to where I am now.   Q: Do you remember your first cap?   A: Yes, it was against Botswana in Gaborone (Cosafa Castle Cup, 20 February, 1999) playing at the back with Matthew Booth and Trott Moloto was the coach at the time. We were playing away from home and it was one of the games where I really enjoyed myself. I will never forget that match, more so because we won two one (2-1).   Q: Any difference between your first cap back then and now as a player?   A: In my first cap I was surrounded by players who I had to learn a lot from, who encouraged me and took the responsibility of the team – but at the moment the roles have been reversed, the responsibilities now lies with me and the other senior players. We have to guide and groom the youngsters much like we were assisted when we started in the national team. I have also gained lots of experience along the way and what I have learnt I have to impart to the other players.   Q: Was there any pressure getting to 100?   A: Playing for Bafana Bafana, wearing that national team jersey is just pressure on its own and we have to live with it. Remember we are representing thousands of footballers who did not make the team, as well as millions of South Africans who are supporters of the team. But at the same time it’s also enjoyable pressure.   Q: When did you realize you were going to reach 100 caps?   A: I think the game we played against Nigeria in Abuja where I earned my 70th cap, and I told myself that if I work hard and continue with my commitment I can make a 100 caps. But at the same time I am not one to count caps, it’s only recently when people started talking about it that I also seriously thought about it.   Q: What are the attributes for reaching this milestone 100 caps?   A: I think desire, commitment, hard work, discipline and talent. But also note that it does not take talent only for a person to be successful in life, especially in football. So for me those five attributes played a very big role for me to be where I am today both at club level and in the national team.   Q: Who do you model your game around?   A: It has to be Lucas Radebe (former Bafana Bafana captain), he has been the person I have been looking up to since I started playing football. And when I came to the national team it was a dream of mine to play alongside him and I achieved that goal. But what he has achieved for this country words can’t describe. He was a good ambassador on and off the football field and really raised the South African flag by going abroad and captaining a foreign club (Leeds United in England). He really inspired me. I have also done the same, captaining clubs in England and being captain of the national team.   Q: How far do you think you can go with your caps?   A: At the moment I am not even concerned about that, but what I can tell you is that I am still enjoying my football, I still enjoy representing my country and I will take whatever comes. I know someday I will have to call it a day, but right now my focus is on the World Cup.   Q: What are your thoughts to captain a team at the World Cup?   A: I am not going to lie and say I don’t think about it everyday. To be honest it’s a dream come true and I have never imagined that someday it will happen. I have been to a few Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as captain but nothing beats this one, it’s something I will cherish for as long as I live. But at the same time let’s not forget it’s not about the captain only – football is a team sport, there are ten other players with me on the field and some more on the bench – what I mean by that is that the biggest honour is representing your country, then being captain is an added bonus.   Q: What is your most memorable game in a Bafana Bafana jersey?   A: As you know when we play our neighbours on the continent they always want to beat Bafana Bafana, but the one match that stands out was against Ivory Coast in Polokwane (22 June 2003). We needed a win to qualify for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. We faced a red-hot Didier Drogba on the day but still we managed to beat them two one (2-1). It was a very difficult match, a very tense affair but in the end we won.   Q: Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced?   A: I would probably give it to Raul (former captain of Spain) for his sterling play at the 2002 World Cup in Korea, we lost that match 2-3. He made it difficult for us on that day. And perhaps because of that result we were not able to proceed to the second round.   Q: Who is the most exciting player you have shared the field with at national team level?   A: I think Puyol (current defender and captain of Spain), for me he really stands out above the best. He leads by example and has done well at club level for Barcelona where he has won many titles but still every time he plays he is still hungry. So he is one of the players I had an opportunity to share the field with and I really admire him a lot.   Q: Who inspires you in life?   A: I can say it’s my mother and Jomo Sono (former Bafana Bafana coach). My mother because she played a very big role in my life. I went through difficult times and she was always there for me, she stood by me and protected me as the last born at home. Sono because he groomed me into a footballer that I am today, he introduced me to international football when he took me as a youngster to the African Cup of Nations Tournament in Burkina Faso in 1998. I did not get to play, but it was worthwhile experience. So I would like to dedicate my 100 caps to both my mother and Jomo Sono.   Q: How far do you think Bafana Bafana can go in the World Cup?   A: We are all aware that we are in a tough group, playing against teams that are very experienced and two of them have won the World Cup before (Uruguay and France) but our target is to move from the group stages and proceed as far as we can. We have to take each game as it comes and not put ourselves under unnecessary pressure and then the sky is the limit.   Q: Your second World Cup, will your experience help this time around?   A: At this level you need experience, and having played at the 2002 World Cup tournament in Korea and Japan I can safely say I came back with loads of experience because as a player you learn and acquire experience everyday. So my experience should come in handy but as I said before it’s not only about me, it’s about the team as we have very experienced players who are playing in top flight football and have won titles at their various clubs. So their experience will be valuable too.   Q: Captain of the national team, 100 caps and playing for your country – what is more valuable to you?   A: They all mean a lot to me, but the truth is they are all intertwined – to get to one you have to achieve the other. First you represent your country, then one of the two will follow, and sometimes it’s both as is the case with me. But representing your country has to be the highest honor for any footballer.   Q: Message to the millions of supporters.   A: This is the first World Cup on the African continent, we  as South Africans are privileged to represent the continent by hosting this big event, we have to get together and show the world that South Africa has what it takes in terms of support and delivering a world class event. It’s a perfect opportunity for South Africa to sell herself to the world.   Q: Message to your teammates in the national team.   A: What I can say to them is that we are talented and really honoured to be part and parcel of the team that will be representing the country at the highest level. There are many players out there who want to be in this position, so we need to grab this chance with two hands and make sure that we go out there and give it our all. We are the ones with the power to influence the results, we have the team spirit and the desire to do so, and with a little bit of sacrifice we can do something. I hope the players can go out there to show the country we can do it.   Mokoena leads a team of elite players with 50 caps or more.     Players with 50 caps or more:  99 - Aaron Mokoena 79 - Benni McCarthy 77 – Siyabonga Nomvete 74 - Shaun Bartlett 73 - John Moshoeu 72 - Delron Buckley 70 - Lucas Radebe 67 - Andre Arendse 67 - Sibusiso Zuma 66 - Helman Mkhalele 62 - Mark Fish 58 - Phil Masinga 56 – MacBeth Sibaya 52 - Neil Tovey 50 - Doctor Khumalo 

Previous comments on this story...

posted: 10:26 am
what about " the most useless player to reach a 100th cap"? life has its own way of giving undeserving individuals critical positions, ie george bush, trott moloto, robert mugabe etc. there is nothing for us to celebrate here to wonder how is this guy going to cost us victories in the world cup. damn!
posted: 11:06 am
Mbazo uyinkomo mfowethu period. We're de only country whose captain is a cow
posted: 11:48 am
mokoena does cost us much in the team,always giving away dangerous shor piecies,he does nt deserve to be in the field.
posted: 04:06 pm
If u r loyal 2 ur witch doctor u can even reach ur 150th cap.
posted: 07:46 pm, guys copy and paste look and see how we beat Mexico in 2005, we gonna repeat the same thing; shapa Bafana iyo!o!
posted: 08:43 am
Congratulations and well done to Aaron "Captain Fantastic" Mbazo Mokoena, you truly deserve all your achievements and wish you can get even more caps. thanks as well for being a role model to the up and coming young players, the milestone you have reached is exactly the measure of your success, you've done well for yourself!

Salute Mbazo!
Once a Chiefs fan always a Fool
posted: 09:05 am
Mr. Editor.

Where is Teko Modise - 51.??.. Above Doctor Khumalo. Please give us the correct information.!!!.
posted: 09:13 am
It's quite a shame that I invite a heardache by trying to remember your fruitful contributions to BB after 100 games... Hhay ndoda, awuyeke ukuboza kangaka, STOP BEING A COW WITH EXPERIENCE, PROVE US WRONG BROER... For now you are celebrating ALONE as we don't see anything to celebrate in your services. We acknowledge that you are discipined and committed, well done! You however need to balance that with skill, and as far as we know, you've been lacking in that as from your 1st cap...
Gucci Man
posted: 09:13 am
Well done my're such a good leader and I like your commitment and wouldn't like to spoil this(achievement) by mentioning your perfomance on the field, but let me say "Congratulations outie yami".

Viva Bafana Bafana , we're behind you guys 100% .
lekhosi la ga Mothapo
posted: 09:27 am
Gucci Man: 2010-05-31 09:13

Well done my're such a good leader and I like your commitment and wouldn't like to spoil this(achievement) by mentioning your perfomance on the field, but let me say "Congratulations outie yami".

Viva Bafana Bafana , we're behind you guys 100% .

Achievements YOU ARE CRAZY how many games have we lost because of this cow do you still remember when he refused to play for bafana after the captaincy was give to sibusiso zuma this fool
posted: 10:25 am
What a way to start a week for other ppl like this small-boy tk and the rest who continue to criticise Mbazo. Congratulations Captain your story is a clear indication that if you take care of your country and family all will be well with you. You have never turned your back on us even when you were enjoying all the fame and attention in Europe.

I strongly wish that you grow to become one of the Bafana players who will oned day take this beloved and fortunate Country to the WC as a coach. It goes on to show that you learned from the best Lucas Radebe, Neil Tovey, Helman Mkhelele and the rest. Go Mbazo Go Mbazo! Viva Bafana Bafana we are very much proud of you Boys and my support is ensured no matter what.
posted: 12:58 pm
Congrats MBAZO. Marr eish, your fouls my brother! Please, that's not a way to play international matches.
You've the height, jump, aggression, and 'voice,' just nullify the tuckles - this JOMO lessons, though, won't go easily I know. Marrrrrrrr, eish, my brother???
Swona Champ!
posted: 02:23 pm
Doc Khumalo has done so much, did not even realise he played 50time for the nation! Radebe as well you would think he had 150caps,

Mbazo, your sangoma is working for you bro, keep paying!
Swona Champ!
posted: 02:28 pm

nothing Mbazo can nullify, this is his 3rd world cup, he has been the same the past two and he was learning and he's going to tell us about the expirince he gained during this one and we are not going to see a change from him, watch the space....
posted: 04:23 pm
Go Mbazo!! Go! Viva Mbazo!! They never liked Phil Masinga. But he delivered. They will also never like you. They will never forgive you for not playing for Kaizer Chiefs & Orlando Pirates. You success is Jomo's success & they will never like it. What they see are only your mistakes.
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