They call it the “silly season”, that window of time in sports leagues when teams wield all the power they have to draw the best talent money can buy. The Premier Soccer League’s recent mid-season edition was defined by an all-out hunt for the affections of a footballer so brilliant, not even a broken leg could hold courtiers at bay.
In the end Sifiso Myeni switched off his phone for three days and emerged with a decision. The Wits FC midfielder and captain would move to Orlando Pirates on a three-year deal.
Myeni had joined the “Clever Boys” at Wits for the 2008/09 season. Over the next three years, the rocket-footed Myeni became a Nedbank Cup winner in 2010, took Midfielder of the Tournament at the 2011 Telkom Knockout — giving the entire R100 000 prize to his mom — and represented South Africa at the under-20 level.
Renowned for his turf-churning pace, Myeni’s shimmies and waltzlike turns on the ball induce chills in opposition dugouts. More important is his dexterity with both feet. “I trained my left foot so hard, people don’t know I’m right-footed,” he says. “It gives defenders a lot to think about.”
He’s quick to add that football is also a game of intelligence. He says he needs to improve his positional play, learning to mark more effectively and track back to help in defence.
Myeni made his debut in national colours last year against Tanzania. The goal that resulted from one of his corner kicks was a massive high, but he downplays the importance. “I don’t want to relax,” he explains, “so I try to treat it as nothing.”
While hoping to prove a wise investment for the Buccaneers, 23-year-old Myeni is now eyeing further Bafana success at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations and Brazil’s 2014 World Cup.
— Ian Macleod