More often than not, when you think of the surname Mabena, your thoughts are likely to be channelled to the South African National Defence Force soldier, who was roasted of social media when videos of himself failing dismally to perform drills went viral.
Since then, the Mabena surname has been associated with disappointment, mediocrity and underperforming. But this Mabena, who leads Bloemfontein Celtic with a touch of class, is a Mabena that does not disappoint.
Celtic captain Ndumiso Mabena will play his 30th game of the season this Saturday when he leads out Phunya Sele Sele to wage war against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final.
“It is an honour for me to be captaining the team into the final and credit must be given to the technical staff. I think it is going to be a big game, not only for me but for the whole team because it is going to be the first time that we play a Nedbank Cup final. We just have to give it our all and give it our best at the end of the day,” said Mabena.
The 33-year-old has this season embodied and personified the phrase ‘aging like fine wine’. His statistics in terms of goals and assists are not a fair indication of his continual contribution to Celtic’s success this season – he is without doubt the engine of the side.
“We are professionals and at the end of the day we have to work despite any problems, whatever comes and any circumstances. I think I am very fortunate to have played so many games for the team and the rest that we got (during the lockdown) is what kept us going. Maybe we were even lucky to have to break … because it gave us a chance to regroup and recover as a team and come back stronger,” said Mabena.
The striker has played in a number of cup finals in his career but this is the maiden one where he is skippering the side and he says going up an experienced and talented Sundowns side will not be an easy task, given that Pitso Mosimane’s side are still brimming with confidence after winning a third league title in a row and gunning for a domestic treble.
“We know that Sundowns are former Caf Champions League winners, they have the experience and they have a good bunch of player and are a good team. You can tell and see that they have the experience from the way they managed the league games that they played up until they caught up with …. Kaizer Chiefs. They did what they have to do and it shows all the experience that they gained in Africa,” said Mabena.