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From Walking 10km Daily To Brink Of World Cup Qualifier

There is a silent belief in the local football fraternity that Evidence Makgopa could become one of the best forwards Mzansi has ever seen; and now the lanky forward has revealed why his meteoric rise has taken even himself by surprise.

Three years ago, Makgopa was playing street football in the streets of Ga-Mampa, Limpopo, walking 10 kilometres daily to get to school. Three years later, he was leading the line for the national under-23 side at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and part of a Bafana Bafana side raring to qualify for another World Cup.

That is how fast things have progressed for the soft-spoken striker.

But by his own admission, playing in the pro-ranks was a far-fetched dream for the 21-year-old who is crucial to Bafana Bafana’s FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup ambitions.

“[Playing professional football] was too unrealistic to even dream about for someone from my village. Growing up in a small, rural area, you don’t really think about making it in life, yet alone football. I had a file for school, and I filled it with newspaper clippings about footballers. I used to look at them as I walked to school and think, ‘How good must it be to be that player? He must have an amazing life.’ But dreaming about doing what he was doing was too unrealistic. If you had told me then, (that) I would become a professional footballer I would have thought you were completely crazy,” he told FIFA in a recent interview.

Makgopa could go one step further by helping coach Hugo Broos’ side qualify for the global football showcase next year, although they will have to overcome Zimbabwe and Ghana if they are to etch closer to that dream.

“Football (is) full of surprises. Yes, they [Ghana] have players from big clubs in Europe, but we don’t care who they are. We really want to be in Qatar next year, and we see them as players in our way to that. So, we have to raise our game, to fight. I’m very confident South Africa will finish first in our group. 2010 was incredible for South Africa, but then we missed the last two World Cups.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine what it would mean. South African people are very passionate about football. It’s very personal to them. They will come up to you and criticize you, but then they will try to pick you up for the next game. They will always support you. We’re desperate to give the people the joy of going to the World Cup again,” he added.

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