Award won't break Sifiso Hlanti, Thamsanqa Mkhize bond
Even vying for the league's Defender of the Season Award won't affect the friendship between Bidvest Wits left-back Sifiso Hlanti and Cape Town City skipper Thamsanqa Mkhize.
Mkhize and Hlanti, alongside Mamelodi Sundowns' Ricardo Nascimento, are in the running for the Absa Premiership Defender of the Season accolade.
The Bafana Bafana wing-backs forged their bond way back in 2012 when they were coming through the ranks at Golden Arrows.
"Me and ubafo [brother] come a long way. It's unbelievable that we are both nominated for the same award, but whoever wins it between us will be winning it for both of us," Hlanti told Sowetan yesterday.
"We started to play professionally at the same time in 2012 at Arrows. Our career paths have taken almost similar twists. Mkhize also had his ups and downs and I was also hopeless playing in the NFD [National First Division] at some point."
Having been signed by Wits from AmaZulu in the NFD three years ago, Hlanti is amazed at how his career has flourished after some tribulations.
One of Mkhize's adversities was to be rejected by Orlando Pirates in 2016.
Mkhize had agreed to join Bucs on a three-year deal but the Soweto heavyweights pulled the plug at the eleventh hour when then coach Muhsin Ertugral deemed the KwaXimba, KZN-born right-back surplus to what he needed.
"Honestly, we did not know that we would be at this level, playing together at the national team.
"For us to play for Bafana, it shows that we've worked hard. This is just like a dream," noted the Wits defender.
It's not the first time Hlanti, 29, is nominated for this award.
In the Students' title-winning season, the 2016/17, the lad from Newcastle in KZN and Kaizer Chiefs' Ramahlwe Mphahlele were pipped to this gong by his Wits and Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
The awards take place in Durban on Sunday.