Bongani Khumalo

Defender: Tottenham Hotspurs

Erudite and thoughtful, Bongani Khumalo, with his middle-class upbringing, Model-C accent and love of reading, might appear to be the antithesis of your stereotypical, hard-living, kasi-nurtured footballer. But when the towering central defender does his talking on the football pitch there is no doubt about his credentials and why he has been tipped as a future Bafana Bafana captain. The lanky 24-year-old has already captained Supersport United to successive Premier Soccer League titles and was a Bafana stalwart during the 2010 World Cup. He scored the opening goal in South Africa's final group-stage match against France with a thundering header, ensuring that the hosts salvaged some pride from the tournament. The goal also meant that South Africa beat the European giants (2-1) for the first time. But Khumalo is an equally cool character when it comes to preventing goals: he is commanding in the air, quick and an intelligent reader of the game. His composed performances for Bafana secured a �1.5-million (R17-million) move to English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs during the January 2011 transfer window. His career in England has been slow in taking off. He was loaned out to first-division club Preston North End, and a run of six games in the team coincided with an upsurge in the club's fortunes. But Khumalo recently suffered a metatarsal fracture in a game against Millwall that ended the rest of his season. He is likely to be fit in time for pre-season training and, with Spur's defenders prone to lapses, has opportunities to cement a first-team place at the North London club next season. Khumalo, who was born in Swaziland � where his mother was studying � is the third footballer born outside South Africa to play for Bafana Bafana. He spent his formative years as a junior in the Arcadia Shepherds academy before signing up for the University of Pretoria in 2005. � Niren Tolsi