Johannesburg - Having played second fiddle to Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune for much of his Bafana Bafana career, Orlando Pirates’ Senzo Meyiwa says he wants to be remembered for being one of the best shot-stoppers in Africa.
“I told myself that even if I don’t get time to play in the national side, it’s the one chance for me to make my name in African football,” Meyiwa said ahead of Pirates’ Caf Champions League first-leg final fixture against Al-Ahly on Saturday.
“I want to become one of the best goalkeepers on the African continent and now is my chance.
“At Bafana, I don’t get much game-time but at Pirates, I can be remembered as one of the best in Africa.”
Meyiwa was part of the Buccaneers squad which lost to Tunisian side CS Sfaxien in the semi-finals of the 2006 Champions League, but being a youngster, he was the third-choice gloveman, with the likes of Avril Phali and Francis Chansa ranked higher in the pecking order.
But on Saturday, Meyiwa will take part in his ninth consecutive Champions League game of the season, having been in goal for the duration of the group stages and the semi-finals.
The 26-year-old said, like others in the squad, he had learnt from the players who took part in the 2006 event and he was looking to draw from their experience during the two-legged final.
“They went through what we we’re going through now. We learnt a lot from that team, and that’s why we’ve managed to go this far in the tournament.
“The players who were there then have told us what to expect. It means a lot for me. It’s a great opportunity to see myself playing against a big team.”
While Pirates would be looking to add a second African title to their honours roll - having won the tournament in 1995 - Meyiwa said he was overwhelmed by the messages of support from across South Africa, particularly from rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who had wished them well for the final.
“All South Africans should come in their numbers to make sure we get the support we need to win the second star (title),” Meyiwa said.
“Stuart Baxter (Kaizer Chiefs coach) wished us good luck on Saturday and Itumeleng Khune wished me all the best.
“They’re supporting us so now we need to go out there and do our best. It’s a big thing for us and it means a lot to have other South Africans behind us and supporting us.”
The Soweto giants had waited 18 years for a shot at a second Champions League trophy, prompting Meyiwa to call on the Sea Robbers to make the most of being so close to lifting the most coveted piece of silverware on the continent.
“It’s an opportunity for us. We don’t know when this opportunity will come again, so it’s a chance we need to take.
“We need to do our best and grab the opportunity which would be life-changing.
“For us, winning this star will change our lives even after football.”