Bafana star eager to impress
© AFP

Teko Modise, the new star of South African football, has the making of a world football star and statistics prove he has been South Africa's prime performer in Bafana Bafana's previous eight games.

His mentor, Pitso Mosimane, who is second-in-command to Bafana Bafana coach, Joel Natalino Santana, is convinced that all Modise needs now is a break in Europe to display his talents on a bigger stage.

"He is a genius and the good thing about Teko is that he is level-headed. He hasn't allowed fame to get into his head. He is a footballer, he loves the game and given time and proper guidance, he is going to be one of the biggest stars to emerge from the African continent," said Mosimane.

The talented midfielder orchestrated Bafana Bafana's historic victory against the highest ranked African team, Cameroon - a victory that symbolised a new era of hope in South African football. But one solid performance does not warrant rave ratings, and that is why it is apt to consult history to form a fair opinion on Modise.

Views from above
Mosimane is by far the most authoritative person to speak on Modise as he discovered the player, then a youngster, when he was playing at semi-professional level. Mosimane was still in charge of South African reigning league champions, SuperSport United at the time. However, when he left United, Modise also made a move and joined one of South Africa's most successful clubs, Orlando Pirates. It was a switch inspired by a desire to improve his game and establish himself in South African football and it soon paid dividends.

"I loved my time at SuperSport, but when Pirates approached me, I couldn't turn down such an offer," Modise told FIFA.com. "Pirates is one of the biggest teams here, it is a respected team. Also, I thought that a move to Pirates will improve my chances of playing for the national team. Playing in Johannesburg means more exposure for a player."

In a country where sport gives hope to youngsters in impoverished areas, the diminutive midfielder believes that the hunger that he felt in the densely populated townships of Johannesburg has helped him to become a top footballer.

"Growing up was not easy for me," he continued. "We used to play football in the streets and I remember that on Saturdays and Sundays, we would go to the stadiums to watch our local heroes. Where I grew up, football is very popular; people just want to enjoy the game. It helps us not to focus on some of the daily challenges we face. For most of us, it gives us something to aim at."

Confed and continental dreams
The midfield maestro is also optimistic that the South African football team will make the nation proud in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.

"We are all looking forward to the Confederations Cup," he said. "We know what it means for our people, it is important for us to do well there. I think we are on the right track and the coach (Santana) has done a good job in building the team again.

"People are going to love South Africa because this is a great country. I think we are going to be good hosts to visitors."
His driving ambition is to play for one of the top European countries, but at 26, he is aware that time is one luxury he does not have.

"I think I'm ready to play in Europe right now. In the past, I had few offers, but I decided to stay because I wanted to make my name in South Africa before I went overseas. My dream was to play for Bafana Bafana and I have fulfilled that, now its time to dream bigger," he concluded.