Itumeleng Khune moved into second on the all-time caps list for Bafana Bafana on Tuesday‚ continuing to grow his legend in the national team jersey.
He is in illustrious company near the top of the list‚ with other legendary names in the history of the national team. In celebration of his feat‚ we look at the top five most capped players for SA.
Debut: vs Netherlands‚ June 4 1997
Last cap: vs Brazil‚ September 7 2012
McCarthy is SA’s leading scorer at international level with 31 goals in his 80 caps during a 15-year Bafana career that had plenty of ups and downs.
From the four goals scored in 13 minutes against Namibia in the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals‚ to bust-ups with the SA Football Association (Safa) and time out of the national team through personal choice. There is no doubt though that he is the most accomplished striker to don the national jersey and was named Player of the Tournament at those 1998 continental finals. He remains the only player to net an international hat-trick for Bafana.
Perhaps his biggest disappointment was missing out on selection for the 2010 World Cup on home soil‚ having scored Bafana’s first goal at the event against Denmark in 1998.
Debut: vs Trinidad‚ May 6 1999
Last cap: vs Gabon‚ June 15 2012
Forward Nomvethe is still playing professional football at the age of 40 for AmaZulu‚ though he recently announced his retirement at the end of this season. He netted 16 goals in 82 caps for Bafana‚ though it should be noted that he was used as a wide player for much of his career‚ with his electric pace and high work-rate admired by many coaches down the years.
He played at four Afcon finals in 2000-2006‚ but his career looked as if it was over a year later as other options were preferred. But a renaissance in form saw him selected for the 2010 World Cup‚ where he played in the 2-1 win over France.
He continued to play for another couple of years before being dropped by Gordon Igesund‚ who had ironically revived his career at Moroka Swallows.
Debut: vs Egypt‚ January 14 2006
Last cap: vs Senegal‚ November 10 2017
Tshabalala’s international career only recently ended when he was a surprise call-up for the finale to the World Cup qualifiers in 2017.
Having debuted in the squad that went to the 2006 Afcon finals under Ted Dumitru‚ which proved a disaster with zero points and zero goals‚ Tshabalala was perhaps the finest selection made for that tournament.
He would go on to cement a regular place and earn a reputation for spectacular goals‚ none more so than his World Cup opener against Mexico in 2010. If you were to compile a list of the top 10 Bafana goals‚ that one would feature prominently.
He was a consistent performer‚ though less effective as his pace faded.
Debut: vs Zimbabwe‚ March 11 2008
Last cap: vs Seychelles‚ October 16 2018
Khune earned his 90th cap against the Seychelles on Tuesday making him the most capped goalkeeper for the side after Andre Arendse (67).
Khune has been Bafana’s undisputed No1 for the past decade and might have topped 100 caps already were it not for injuries that have kept him sidelined for long spells.
It is hard to pick a bad game, although perhaps his most disappointing was the 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the World Cup when he was red-carded‚ and the 3-1 loss to Mauritania in the Afcon qualifiers when a howler set the West Africans up for a win.
Debut: vs Botswana‚ February 20 1999
Last cap: vs Sierra Leone‚ October 10 2010
Mokoena was a stalwart of the Bafana defence for more than a decade and at the time was the youngest player to feature for the national side when he made his debut against Botswana in the Cosafa Cup aged 18 years‚ two months and 26 days‚ a record that has since been surpassed.
He enjoyed a long and successful career in Europe but never shirked the responsibility of coming home to play for SA.
His only national team goal came in a 1-0 win in Zambia in 2006.
Mokoena captained Bafana on 63 occasions‚ including at the 2010 World Cup.