Johannesburg - It is often said that one man’s pain is another man’s pleasure, and this could be true for Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Tiyani Mabunda, who only got his big break after Bongani Zungu was injured earlier this year.
Before Zungu’s injury, the 28-year-old, Giyani-born midfielder played for Sundowns’ MultiChoice Diski Challenge side, and before that he had made five appearances for the Brazilians in two years and seven months at Chloorkop.
Mabunda was at one point offloaded to Free State Stars on loan.
The Bafana Bafana international, who won the Absa Premiership championship at the end of last season, said a few days ago:
“At the beginning of last season, I made a prayer to God to place me in a team that He wanted me in, where He could strengthen His power over my life and where I would be able to compete against the best in the world.”
He said he was registered late at the beginning of last season, and only played for the MultiChoice Diski Challenge side.
“When I returned from Stars, I was registered with the team and I thought if [it was] God who had placed me here again, then probably there’s something that I have to do here.”
But he admitted that it was never easy.
“I couldn’t understand why they would register me in the league but allow me play in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge. But I let it go.”
He said when things changed in April, he knew the time that God had made him wait for had come. He never lost hope and his pastor, Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, had kept him going.
“I have a spiritual father in Bishop Bushiri, who always tells me to believe that God [will] make a plan for me,” he said.
“I believe everything that comes out of his mouth, and I had no reason to doubt him because I knew if he said so, it was going to happen.”
Mabunda said things had improved and the best was still to come.
“God has only started revealing Himself to me and I believe a lot is still coming my way. With Him, I can withstand any challenge.”
Mabunda walked straight into the Bafana Bafana starting line-up against Senegal after being called in as a replacement for the injured Dean Furman.
He said his participation in the CAF Champions League had made him stronger, and he had not been intimidated by the star-studded west African side.
“I prayed to God to give me the opportunity to play against the best in the world and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity.”
Mabunda’s first experience of continental football in the CAF Confederation Cup at Black Leopards in 2011 was a good beginning and it enabled him to understand the requirements of playing on the continent.
Now that he was a regular feature in coach Pitso Mosimane’s team, he said, he would persevere.
He now wants to cement his place in the national team.