'Mcaba deserves Bafana call-up'

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Athenkosi Mcaba's latest Bafana Bafana call-up is reward for his performances with Stellenbosch FC this season according to club coach Steve Barker.

Earlier this week, Stellenbosch FC defender Athenkosi Mcaba was one of 38 players named in South Africa national team coach Hugo Broos' preliminary squad for next month's CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Morocco and Zimbabwe.

The 20-year-old, who was previously on the books of Bidvest Wits and Cape Umoya United, made his international debut in a friendly against Guinea in Belgium in March in an encounter that saw him become the first-ever Stellies player to feature for Bafana Bafana.

He has since continued to impress at club level, where he helped Stellies' reserve side win the DStv Diski Challenge while featuring regularly for the senior team, and was recently nominated for the DStv Premiership Young Player of the Season award.

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"Athi wasn't really that well known [before joining Stellenbosch] but he got his opportunity and showed great consistency and maturity," Barker told Kick Off. "From day one he got his opportunity and took it. He’s played really well and fully deserves it."

Mcaba is one of two Stellies players who have been called up to the latest Bafana Bafaba squad, alongside forward Ashley Du Preez, and the club is hoping to become a pipeline to the national team.

"Originally when the ownership of the club was taken over by the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, our CEO, Mr. [Rob] Benadie’s view was that there has always been a pathway for rugby players in the Stellenbosch environment," Barker added.

"From primary school to high school, to the Western Province Academy to the Stormers – if you were talented and good enough you had that opportunity, and we want to create the same thing for young footballers.

"We want to have that pipeline where players who show their ability at a young age, come into our system and then into the DDC and the PSL, and hopefully into the Bafana Bafana squad. We are very proud that [Du Preez and Mcaba] have made the preliminary squad.

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"I think there will be some of our players who will hopefully be called up for the national U23 squad as well. It always gives you a sense of achievement and gratification and satisfaction to be able to see the players and the hard work they put it on a daily basis being reward."

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