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Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune have given special praise to midfielder MacBeth Sibaya.

Sibaya was the stand-out player for South Africa against Iraq on Sunday and has become an integral part of Santana’s national setup, something the Brazilian coach acknowledged on Tuesday.

“Sibaya is a very important player for the country, he has a good personality and is one of the very senior players I rely on, like Aaron [Mokoena] and Benson [Mhlongo],” Santana said.

“He is a very calm player and brings a lot of balance to the midfield and to the whole group. I would like to congratulate him on his 50th cap because it is not many players that play 50 times for Bafana Bafana.”

Khune praised Sibaya’s role as a leader and the example he set for the youngsters in the squad.

“I wish him many more caps in the future and [I] am very happy that he has reached 50 caps,” Khune said.

“He is such a good example to us young players, settling us down, sharing his experience with us, telling us what he went through to get to where he is today. I would love to follow in his footsteps as a person and to reach 50 caps for my country.”

Sibaya made his Bafana debut in a World Cup qualifier in 2001 against Malawi and played in all three of Bafana’s matches at the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.

The Rubin Kazan midfielder has been a regular for the national side through the Carlos Alberto Parreira and Santana eras, but has yet to get on the score sheet for the national team in his 49 caps to date.

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