Siyabonga Sangweni Biography: Youth and Professional career

Siyabonga Sangweni

Siyabonga Sangweni is a former professional footballer from South Africa who is best known for his time with the national team, Bafana Bafana, and for his impressive performances at club level. He was born on the 29th of November 1981 in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Sangweni had a successful career that spanned over a decade and saw him play for various clubs in South Africa, including AmaZulu, Golden Arrows, and Orlando Pirates.

Early Life and Career:

Sangweni grew up in Empangeni and started playing football at a young age. He played for various local clubs before joining AmaZulu in 2003, where he made a name for himself as a reliable defender. He spent three seasons at AmaZulu before moving to Golden Arrows in 2006.

Golden Arrows:

Sangweni’s time at Golden Arrows was arguably the most successful of his career. He spent six seasons at the club and was an instrumental figure in their midfield. Sangweni’s solid defensive performances earned him several accolades, including the South African Football Association’s Defender of the Season award in 2008. His impressive form also caught the attention of Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa’s biggest clubs.

Orlando Pirates:

Sangweni joined Orlando Pirates in 2011 and immediately made an impact at the club. He played a crucial role in their defense and helped them win several titles, including the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the MTN 8 Cup. He was also a key figure in their run to the final of the CAF Champions League in 2013, where they finished as runners-up.

Sangweni’s career at Orlando Pirates:

2011/2012 season: Siyabonga Sangweni joined Orlando Pirates ahead of the 2011/2012 season. He made his debut for the club in a league match against Golden Arrows in August 2011. Sangweni quickly established himself as a regular member of the starting XI and formed a solid defensive partnership with Rooi Mahamutsa. He helped the team reach the final of the MTN 8 Cup, where they lost to Moroka Swallows. Sangweni also played a key role in the team’s league campaign, as they finished as runners-up to rivals Kaizer Chiefs.

2012/2013 season: Sangweni continued his impressive form in the 2012/2013 season. He played a crucial role in the team’s run to the final of the CAF Champions League, where they faced Egyptian giants Al-Ahly. Sangweni scored a vital goal in the first leg of the final, but unfortunately, the team lost 3-2 on aggregate. He also helped the team win the Nedbank Cup, as they beat Bidvest Wits 3-1 in the final. Sangweni’s performances earned him the club’s Player of the Season award.

2013/2014 season: Sangweni had a relatively quiet season in the 2013/2014 campaign. He battled with injuries and only managed to make 15 appearances in all competitions. Despite this, he still played an important role in the team’s defense when fit and helped them reach the final of the Nedbank Cup, where they lost to SuperSport United.

2014/2015 season: Sangweni’s final season at Orlando Pirates was a mixed one. He struggled with injuries once again and only managed to make 12 appearances in all competitions. The team also had a disappointing campaign, as they finished outside of the top four in the league and failed to win any trophies. Sangweni announced his departure from the club at the end of the season.

International Career:

Sangweni made his debut for the South African national team, Bafana Bafana, in 2010. He quickly became a regular member of the squad and was part of the team that competed in the 2010 FIFA World Cup on home soil. Sangweni’s performances at the tournament earned him widespread praise, and he was hailed as one of South Africa’s best players. He went on to earn 42 caps for the national team and scored three goals.

  • 2009: Sangweni made his debut for Bafana Bafana on 28 March 2009 in a friendly match against Norway in Oslo. He came on as a second-half substitute for Matthew Booth in a match that ended in a 2-1 defeat for South Africa.
  • 2010: Sangweni was a regular member of the Bafana Bafana squad that hosted and participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He played in all three group stage matches against Mexico, Uruguay, and France, as South Africa failed to progress to the knockout stages.
  • 2011: Sangweni was part of the Bafana Bafana squad that won the 2011 Nelson Mandela Challenge by defeating Ivory Coast 2-0 in Port Elizabeth. He also played in several 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying matches, helping South Africa reach the tournament.
  • 2012: Sangweni played a crucial role in the 2012 African Cup of Nations held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. He scored a crucial goal in the quarterfinals against Mali, which helped South Africa win the match 1-0 and progress to the semifinals. He also played in the semifinals against Mali, but South Africa lost the match on penalties.
  • 2013: Sangweni’s last appearance for Bafana Bafana came on 6 September 2013 in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Botswana in Gaborone. He played the full 90 minutes in a match that ended in a 4-1 victory for South Africa.

He was known for his leadership qualities, aerial ability, and solid defending, and was widely regarded as one of the best defenders to have played for the South African national team.


Sangweni retired from professional football in 2018 at the age of 36. He cited a desire to focus on his coaching career as the reason for his retirement. He has since worked as an assistant coach at Golden Arrows and is currently the head coach of Royal AM FC.

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