A Neymar is born in Yeoville

The Nedbank Ke Yona Team at the 2017 Nedbank Ke Yona Team announcement who will take on Nedbank Cup holders SuperSport United on 3 September. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Yeoville was once famous for being the bedrock of theatrical life but now this inner city suburb has given birth to a football star who goes by the nickname of Neymar, after the famous Brazilian international star.

Blessen Mavundla (22) was among the 18 star football players who were paraded in front of the media at the Nedbank headquarters on Rivonia Road, Sandton, following the final selection of players of the 2017 Nedbank Ke Yona Team.

The team will take on Nedbank Cup holders SuperSport United on 3 September at a venue still to be announced.

Neymar, as Mavundla is known to his soccer crazy fans and friends in the suburb, was part of the multitude of other trialists who thronged the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg hoping to make it to the elite 18-member squad which will take on the Nedbank Cup champions.

United have beaten the mighty Buccaneers back-to-back for the past two years to defend this cup, but all that does not intimidate Neymar and his fellow football rookies.

“We’re ready for the two-time champions in a row,” he said. “We’re going to show what football is, and what we’re made of as the new boys on the block.”

Yeoville eclipsed the well-known powerhouses of football in Gauteng such as Alexandra and Soweto to produce this Neymar. Although the two townships had dozens of hopefuls, none of them made it to the stage Mavundla reached, and ultimately break into the 18-member squad.

“Mavundla is part of what I consider one of our most talented players we have assembled as Nedbank Ke Yona Team selectors since the inception of this initiative by Nedbank,” said senior selector and former Bafana Bafana coach, Shakes Mashaba.

“We tightened the selection screws this time around in the hope [of producing] a cream of the crop of players who will make history, and that history will be beating the Nedbank Cup holders.

“Watch this space, and these players will make us proud,” added Mashaba on behalf of his other selectors, Khabo Zondo, Owen Da Gama and Mike Mangena.

Each member of the Ke Yona Team is drafted into a team in the Absa Premiership where they are expected to make their mark and hopefully clinch a contract before the expiry of the month-long trial period.

Neymar joined Free State Stars and that trial window will commence soon after their game against SuperSport.

One player who made his mark through this programme is none other than Aubrey Modiba of SuperSport, who has taken the Premier Soccer League by storm. He has a brother, Justin Modiba, who is a right back in the Ke Yona Team this year and will trial at Maritzburg United.

All eyes will be on ‘Balotelli’, as Modiba is known to his teammates, to see whether he can match the feat achieved by his brother and prove that football runs in the family.

Do you think Justin Modiba will live up to his brother’s legacy? Tell us on the North Eastern Tribune Facebook page

Sipho Siso

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