Cape Town – There would be many who would suggest Bafana Bafana’s crucial 3-1 Group G World Cup qualifying victory over Ethiopia was made in the Free State.
Bafana earned a crucial three points at the Bahir Dar Stadium, courtesy of goals from Tebogho Mokoena, Mothobi Mvala and Evidence Makgopa. However, although Mokoena and Mvala currently play their club football for Pretoria giants SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns in the nation’s capital respectively, they are both originally from the central part of the country.
Mokoena hails from Bethlehem and Mvala from Theunissen in the Free State, and they are equally proud to have given their people back home something to smile about.
“I am sure my family is very happy and even the young kids because if they see someone from a small hometown like Bethlehem making it in South Africa at the top level, it is a motivation to them. It makes me work harder and hungry for the future,” Mokoena said, while Mvala was also glad that he could be a source of inspiration.
“I am from a small township where there are not many opportunities for the people. When I do well, they are more than happy. They are always behind me. We inspire the kids back home,” Mvala added.
Mokoena, who opened the scoring from a long-range free kick which the Ethiopia goalkeeper was unable to collect cleanly, was full of confidence that he could repeat the dosage when Bafana face the Walias again on Tuesday at the FNB Stadium.
“As a team we analysed Ethiopia and we knew where their weakest links were. I stepped up for that free kick because I knew what I was doing and I wanted to score. It went in!” Mokoena said.
“I’ve been waiting for that moment. I have always wanted to score for the national team. When that goal went in, I finally made it and I am hungry for more.”
The lanky Mvala, meanwhile, believed his tap-in from close range was due to Bafana coach Hugo Broos having changed their formation at halftime.
“When we went into the changeroom at halftime, we changed the formation a little bit. We put (Ethan) Brooks just in front of me, and it worked for us. We managed them very well and that’s how we managed to get goals. I think our defending was very good. We knew we had height advantage at set-pieces and we used it wisely,” Mvala said.
“I think at that moment I was lucky. I don’t know what happened. During the first half I was going near-post from the throw-ins, and then in that moment, I just changed my mind because these guys are following me. I thought let me just stay at the back, and the ball came to me. The goalkeeper wanted to come in, but he went back to his post and the ball fell on to my feet and I was alone and I just put the ball into the back of the net.”