Do you remember the thrilling game between Bafana Bafana and Brazil in the 1996 Nelson Mandela Challenge?
Do you remember the midfielder with a small body structure who was tackling the Brazilians and intercepting every attack in the midfield? Well, that was none other than South African legend John Moeti.
Probably one of the best defensive midfielders to play in the national team in the late 90s, Moeti was born in the big Johannesburg Township of Soweto on the 30th of August 1967.
He started his career at the local clubs in Soweto before joining giants Orlando Pirates in 1994.
At Pirates, Moeti won the 1994 National Soccer League before being part of the team that went on to make history by winning the CAF Champions League, defeating Ivory Coast side ASEC Mimosas in the final with that famous Jerry Sikhosana goal that brought glory to South Africa.
At international level, Moeti made his debut in 1995 for South Africa going on to make 29 senior team appearances scoring a single goal. Moeti was part of South Africa’s triumphant 1996 team that won the 1996 AFCON on home soil under coach Clive Barker.
Many might remember the defensive midfielder for his stellar performance in the midfield for Bafana Bafana in the 3-2 loss against the then world champions Brazil with Bafana Bafana putting out a dominant display against the likes of Rivaldo, Bebeto and co.
Moeti was tackling the Brazilians fearlessly in the middle of the park with the South Americans struggling to keep up with the pace and skills of the South Africans. ‘Dungi’ was literally dictating terms for South Africa in the middle of the pitch with Doctor Khumalo in front of him and Eric Tinkler helping to control the midfield.
The anchor was also a key member of the 1998 squad that went all the way to the final of the 1998 AFCON held in Burkina Faso.
Under the guidance of coach Jomo Sono, Bafana Bafana against all odds went all the way only to be defeated by Egypt in the final of the tournament and thereby failing to defend the continental trophy.
At Pirates, more silverware was won with the 1996 national cup and 1996 Top 8 double in the bag while ‘The Happy People’ could only manage a third-place finish in the new Premier Soccer League season.
Moeti went on to make over 150 appearances for the Soweto giants in all competitions before moving to SuperSport United in the 2000/01 season which is where he hanged up his boots.
The midfielder is one of the most underrated and less spoken about players in South Africa, but all coaches who have worked with him especially coach Clive Barker would tell you that he had an engine that never ran out and as small as he looked he was the strongest player in that defensive midfield role.
FARPost honours legends who did great things in their careers and winning the AFCON, a league title, CAF Champions League, reaching another AFCON final and winning a few domestic cups is something that most players have never achieved yet Moeti did.
The little maestro is certainly up there with the best in our history.
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By Prince Sobayeni