Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bafana Bafana hero Siya Sangweni. Nsimbi. Ironman. Has cattle. And a nose for goals.

Seen and herd: Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana hero Siya Sangweni
HE’S the rock. The iron man.  They call Siya Sangweni “Nsimbi” in isiZulu. But we hear so little about the Orlando Pirates 31-year-old who covers captain Bongani Khumalo at the back – and has so far popped up to score TWICE to score vital goals in Bafana Bafana’s African Cup of Nations campaign.

This morning The Star’s Bongani Hans finally gets below the surface of Sangweni, the man we can all thank – Siyabonga – for getting Gordon Igesund’s boys to the quarter-final against Mali on Saturday night.

Sangweni, who scored in the 2-0 win over Angola last Tuesday and crucially levelled in the 2-2 draw against Morocco on Sunday, can been seen and erm… herd two hours north of Durban.

He made a 200km trip from the team’s training camp at the Elangeni Hotel on the beachfront to Dondotha Village in Mpangeni when they were given a day off on Monday.

On page three of The Star this morning, he is pictured with his herd - 34 head of cattle and 56 goats. And it could have been more – last year he gave away some of his beasts as lobola – a traditional African marriage payment - to his in-laws in Witbank.

Herdsman Gonondo Gumede looks after the animals when Sangweni – also known as Nsimbi or Ironman - is away playing football in Soweto. Sangweni gives most of his post-match interviews in Zulu and keeps himself to himself. But he’s no mug. He also has retail and transport businesses grown on his considerable football earnings.

Sangweni, 31, says of his goal against Morocco on Sunday which saw South Africa reach the quarter-finals (they play Mali at 8.30pm at the Moses Mabhida on Sunday night): “I decided to take my chance by leaving the backline unattended. And it worked. I thank God for that.
“There were tears of joy.”

Siya’s younger sister Nqobile told the Star: “After my brother scored the goal, many people came to our home. We immediately organised a braai to celebrate.”

This week on SportsTalk on, Udo Carelse spoke to another goal-scoring centre-back Mark Fish, one of the 1996 African Cup of Nations winners. He said: "Yes, Siya reminds me of me! Not just in this tournament, but when he plays for Orlando Pirates. He gets in the right positions when it matters. That's the vital thing."

Sangweni’s brothers are also making it in football. Mandla, 23, is a goalkeeper for AmaZulu and Thamsanqa, 22, is a midfielder who moved from Golden Arrows to Sundowns last year.

Siya also owns the local football club in Mpangeni – S’yabangena FC.

This blog came from my preparation for Redi Thlabi show on today!

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