Hlongwane looking to come good against Atlas LionsThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla & Mandla Dladla
Bongokuhle Hlongwane has opened up to the local media about his four month stay so far in the USA after joining up with the rest of the Bafana Bafana squad that will face Morocco in the opening Group K match of the 2023 Cote d’Ivoire African Nations Cup tournament.
“Everything is okay there and it’s going well so far but sometimes when I see people coming with their families I miss mine so they can support me and be there for me but I have to accept it as they are very far,” said Hlongwane
Leaving South Africa on his own to perform on the world stage has not been that difficult because if you know what you want in life you have to do what it takes to get it.
“It’s about facing all the challenges that you encounter ahead of you and what sacrifices you are willing to take.
“I want to change my life and that of my family. I know where I come from and sometimes that’s what pushes me. I come from the rural areas. I grew up in a family where my grandfather was the bread winner until my mother and uncle got employed then my grandfather retired because he was too old.
“I then moved out with my father whom I stayed with and he was a construction worker up until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and that’s when life began to be hard for us but after signing a professional contract with Maritzburg United I was able to support my family.”
Hlongwane revealed that he is now able to look after his father and actually sends both his parents money.
“My mother is a nursing sister and is busy but maybe one day my parents will visit me in the USA in order to see me playing live.
“It will be a great feeling because when I was still playing in the PSL they used to come and watch me play.”
But it has been four months since he landed in the US and the goals have been hard to come by for Hlongwane as he is yet to find the back of the net for his new club Minnesota United.
“Speaking about the goals, I don’t know what is going on because I won’t say I am not getting chances. I am creating chances in the team and they are doing the same for me but I don’t know what is going on.
“Sometimes I feel like I am putting myself under undue pressure because I know what I can do on the field of play, I am waiting for the right time and I know it’s coming.
“You have to know that these things do happen to the best of players and I am sure it will pass. I hope that in Morocco I can score, this an important game for us as a country,” said the man they call Bongi at his new club.
Morocco recalled several top notch stars that were left out of their squad in Cameroon four months ago including goalkeeper Yassine Nounou, the Sevilla goalkeeper who recently won the Zamora Trophy as the best goalkeeper in Spain.
The others are Ashraf Hakimi, the PSG attacking midfielder, Noussair Mazraoui and Amir Harit to fortify an already star-studded side determined to regain their status as one of Africa’s top nations.
Although Morocco is considered favourites to qualify out of this group, South Africa should fancy their chances as historically they have played the North Africans on seven occasions, winning twice, losing twice and three matches ending in a stalemate.
It is for this reason that if Bafana Bafana can play without fear and display the same grit and determination they displayed throughout the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, they stand a very good chance of snatching something out of Rabat.
One of the players expected to stamp his authority on the game if Hugo Broos can start with him in the holding role to shield the defence is young Sphephele Sithole, a massively talented boy strong on the tackle and exceptional with his passing range.
Additional information: Romy Titus (Bafana Media Officer)