Mbatha: I don’t have to go to Joburg to play for Bafana Bafana



Siyabonga Mbatha was undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in the Absa Premiership last season registering 10 clean sheets in 24 league starts.
These amazing figures left many pundits and fans believe he deserves to be the national team’s third choice instead of Bruce Bvuma. However, the Durban-born shot-stopper was snubbed from the 23-man team that went to the AFCON in Egypt, and some fans were not happy with the decision accusing former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter on favouring players from his former clubs.

Soccer Betting News’ Banele Pikwa caught up with the AmaZulu goalkeeper to get his thoughts on a possible relegation battle for Usuthu, his outburst on social media and, of course, missing out on a trip to Egypt with the national team.

Banele Pikwa: Siya, are you good my brother?

Siyabonga Mbatha: Yeah, I’m all good thanks for asking. There have been some difficulties recently but konke kuzodlula (everything will be good).

BP:You missed out on the game against Mamelodi Sundowns, was it because of those difficulties?

SM: I lost my dad a few weeks back. I had just returned from burying him, so I think maybe the coach felt that I’m not okay to face Mamelodi Sundowns. I think that was the reason, but it’s also good for competition. We have a very strong goalkeeping department.


BP: Sorry about your loss, my brother, may the lord be with you and your family. So Neil is now the second choice?

SM:  We don’t have a first choice or second choice because anyone can play. We have four good goalkeepers because there’s another boy called Olwethu [Mzimela]. There’s also another goalkeeper who will be joining us. He is trying to get the paperwork in order so you will see him soon.

BP: Last season, you had a fantastic campaign, tell us more about that. Who’s been helping you?

SM: It all boils down to hard work, I don’t think you can improve if they not pushing hard. If you work hard you will reap the rewards. I do a lot of training on my own, the biggest setback was the injury I picked up at the beginning of the season, but I’m 100 percent now and I’m ready to pull up another fight.

We have a very good goalkeeper coach [Davies Phiri], who ensures everyone is ready and on top of their game. Being coached by him is a big boost for me because he has all the experience and he has even won the AFCON, so he motivates us a lot because he knows what it takes to be a top goalkeeper. 

BP: Speaking about the AFCON. A lot of people felt that you should’ve went to Egypt with Bafana Bafana, how was it like for you?

SM: Honestly speaking, I always tell myself that such things are not in my hands, so if it’s not in my hand I shouldn’t be worried about it. Yes, I wanted to be part of the team, but it wasn’t my decision. It was Baxter's decision and he did what he believed was best for Bafana Bafana at that time. Life goes on, I need to do well at AmaZulu and produce good performances week in week out.

BP: Did anyone tell you why you weren’t selected?

SM: To be honest, no. But from what was said [in the media] by the head coach, sounded like he was building for the future by selecting Bruce.

BP: After the Kaizer Chiefs game you were very vocal on Twitter. What was going through your mind while tweeting?

SM: First of all, I have people that take care of my social networks. I can say what I want but they are actually the ones who decide what’s good and what shouldn’t go on social media. If I handled it myself, it would’ve been worse, trust me, because we work so hard during the week and come the weekend, you lose your game like that. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. To lose a game because of bad decisions from the referee is hard, I really felt hurt and I think everyone saw what happened so there’s not much to say. For me, I think I just need to forget about it and move on with life.


BP: People say Kaizer Chiefs in general benefit from the officials. Do you also feel like that?

SM: It’s not my call to make. I only comment about things that are happening at AmaZulu.

BP: Okay, let’s talk about AmaZulu. How is the new coach?

SM: So far, so good, I can say. Coach [Jozef] Vukusic has brought some spark in the team and that’s one thing we were missing at AmaZulu. Now, everyone has lightened up and you can see the guys are willing to work hard again. Everyone knows that if you don’t perform, someone will take your place and there have been some new signings as well, so there’s definitely competition.

BP: What’s the vision now at the club. Is it to survive relegation?

SM: : I think it’s still early to be talking about relegation, there’s still about 21 matches to be played. With the amount of quality that we have at AmaZulu, we shouldn’t even be talking relegation. I think if we work hard, we can finish in the top eight but we’re not even thinking of relegation. I didn’t understand the talks of saying being knocked out of the Telkom Knockout was a blessing so we can focus on relegation. For me, I wasn’t happy to see us exit in the first round and so was everyone we really wanted to win. We will build from this and move forward as a team but we want to compete for silverware and we will not sacrifice tournaments because we are not even talking about relegation.

BP: There were a lot of speculation linking you to bigger teams. Were there any offers?

SM: Haha (laughs) I belong to AmaZulu. I have a contract with the club until the end of next season. Only then, I will start listening to offers but as long as I’m still contracted to AmaZulu I will be focusing on AmaZulu.

BP: When you weren’t selected for Bafana Bafana, did you not think of moving to some of the bigger teams so you can be considered?

SM: You don’t have to go to Joburg to play for the national team. KZN is still part of South Africa and if you are doing well you should be selected regardless of where you are based. Personally, I don’t believe I should move to Joburg to get a Bafana Bafana call up.

BP: Mbatha, thanks a lot for your time, my brother.

SM: You are welcome.

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