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Bafana defender exposes SA’s Uefa Champions League void

On Tuesday evening, a South African footballer stepped onto the turf of a football stadium in the mountainous microstate of San Marino.

It was a Uefa Champions League preliminary round clash between hosts Virtus and Romanian giants FCSB.

The player in question is Bafana Bafana defender Siyabonga Ngezana.

The former Kaizer Chiefs centre-back started and lasted 45 minutes as his side ran riot to hammer the home side 7-1.

That gives FCSB a big advantage going into the second leg. If they proceed to the next round, they will meet Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv.

South African football fans woke up discussing Ngezana’s Champions League debut, and understandably, he deserves to be celebrated.

But a close look at this development shows that the central defender exposed South Africa’s lack of presence in the Champions League.

In the early 2000s, Mzansi could boast of many players competing in this prestigious tournament.

Most notable was Benni McCarthy helping FC Porto to the 2003-04 Champions League title, while Lucas Radebe reached the 2000-01 season semi-finals with Leeds United.

Other South Africans to strut their stuff in this competition include Quinton Fortune, Steven Pienaar, Hans Vonk, Pierre Issa, MacBeth Sibaya, Jacob Lekgetho, Nasief Morris and George Koumantarakis.

The current generation of footballers, including Percy Tau, Thulani Serero and Dino Ndlovu, showcased their talents in the group stages.

For a country blessed with abundant talent, Mzansi deserves to have more players on this grand football stage.

Ngezana is not yet guaranteed to play in the group phase of the Champions League because FCSB is still participating in the preliminary rounds.

Maybe teenage sensation Shandre Campbell will feature on that stage in the future with Club Brugge of Belgium.

Pictured above: Siyabonga Ngezana (back row second from right) lines up with his FCSB teammates before their Uefa Champions League match against Virtus.

Source: FCSB