• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Ex-Bafana captain Hlatshwayo urges Okon to dump Nigeria for South Africa


Thulani Hlatshwayo, former captain of Bafana Bafana of South Africa, has urged SuperSport United teammate and defender of Nigeria descent Ime Okon to dump Nigeria for South Africa.

Okon, a 20-year-old born to a Nigerian father and a South African mother, making him eligible to play for either national team.

Hlatshwayo revealed that Okon has yet to make a decision but is contemplating representing Nigeria despite being born in Johannesburg.

“I have advised him to remain in South Africa because breaking into the Nigerian national team will be challenging,” Hlatshwayo stated.

“To secure a spot in the Nigerian national team, he would need to play in Europe — but we need him in Bafana Bafana.

“When assessing our centre-back options, Mothobi Mvala is dealing with injuries, and there are also Grant Kekana and Siyanda Xulu. I have heard Siyabonga Ngezana encountered travel document issues, but I’m uncertain about the current status,” he added.

Hlatshwayo emphasised Okon’s dual heritage, stating, “His father hails from Nigeria, and his mother is South African.”

The young defender has showcased exceptional performance for Matsatsantsa and was even entrusted with the captain’s armband for one match.

Tyson, as Hlatshwayo is commonly known, has expressed his reluctance to continue assisting Okon should he choose to represent Nigeria over Bafana.

“He was raised here, educated here, and coach Gavin Hunt recruited him from Randburg Football Club. He is South African and speaks Afrikaans,” Hlatshwayo remarked.

“I’ve informed him that I’ll withdraw my support if he opts for Nigeria because there are areas in his game that require refinement,” he continued.

As the situation unfolds, it remains uncertain whether Okon will opt for Nigeria or Bafana, but Hlatshwayo, the former Bafana captain, will keep a close eye on developments.