SA U17 starlet Siyabonga Mabena inspired by Themba Zwane

SA U17 starlet Siyabonga Mabena inspired by Themba Zwane

South Africa national under-17 and Mamelodi Sundowns starlet Siyabonga Mabena is inspired by his more illustrious teammate and Bafana Bafana star Themba Zwane.

Mabena, who is one of the players set to lead Amajimbos at the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that gets underway in Algeria today, has benefited from being part of the star-studded Sundowns dressing room over the past two months.

The 16-year-old has already been involved in four top flight matches for The Brazilians and says Zwane has always been his role model.

"Themba Zwane is a player that I looked up to even when I was still at School of Excellence. Sharing the same changing room with him pushes me to work hard knowing that one day I may achieve what he has already achieved in football," he said.

Mabena and Zwane also play in similar positions and, when the teenager made his professional debut, he came on for ‘Mshishi’ during their 5-1 demolition of Royal AM.

"Themba advised me to stay focused and not pay attention to negative things that people may say about me, he said I must only focus on my career," he added.

As the only professional player in the current U17 squad under Duncan Crowie, Mabena comes to this tournament under the microscope of several international football scouts.

When they play their opening game against Morocco tomorrow evening (21h00), Mabena will be more focused on the job at hand than the scouts.

"I will play the kind of football that our coach wants us to play. We will always help each other as teammates. I will however like to play in Europe in the future," he concluded.