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Aaron Mokoena

Aaron Mokoena

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Teboho Aaron Mokoena is a South African footballer who plays for and captains Football League Championship
Football League Championship
The Football League Championship is the highest division of The Football League and second-highest division overall in the English football league system after the Premier League...

 club Portsmouth
Portsmouth F.C.
Portsmouth Football Club is an English football club based in the city of Portsmouth. The club is nicknamed Pompey. Portsmouth's home matches have been played at Fratton Park since the club's formation in 1898. The team currently play in the Football League Championship after being relegated from...

 and the South African national team
South Africa national football team
The South Africa national football team represents South Africa in association football and is controlled by the South African Football Association, the governing body for football in South Africa. South Africa's home ground is Soccer City, known as FNB Stadium due to a naming rights deal, in...

.

Early career


Mokoena moved to Bayer Leverkusen and Ajax, before twice being loaned out to Germinal Beerschot and then transferring to KRC Genk
K.R.C. Genk
Koninklijke Racing Club Genk , usually referred to as Racing Genk or simply Genk, is a Belgian professional football club based in the city of Genk in Belgian Limburg. Racing Genk plays in the Belgian Pro League and they have won 3 Belgian champion titles in 1998–99, in 2001–02 and in 2010–11 as...

 for two years. On 4 January 2005, aged 24 he moved to Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in which he described his move as a dream.

Blackburn Rovers


Mokoena made his debut for Blackburn
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. The team currently competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football....

 on 8 January 2005 in an FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 match against Cardiff City
Cardiff City F.C.
Cardiff City Football Club are a Welsh professional football club based in Cardiff, Wales. The club competes in the English football pyramid and is currently playing in the Football League Championship. Cardiff City is the best supported football club in Wales, averaging approximately 22,500 for...

, coming on as a 43rd minute substitute for Barry Ferguson
Barry Ferguson
Barry Ferguson MBE is a Scottish footballer who plays as a midfielder for Blackpool.Ferguson has made 82 appearances in European competitions, all for Rangers, which makes him the record European appearance holder at the club. He was also inducted into the Rangers F.C. Hall of Fame...

. After this, Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes
Leslie Mark Hughes, OBE , is a former Welsh international footballer. As an international footballer, he made 72 appearances and scored 16 goals....

 who called him a very good organiser and pacy athlete mainly utilised Mokoena as a holding midfielder, seemingly deeming him not strong enough in defence. Mokoena went on to be a regular in the starting line-up for the remainder of the season, appearing 22 times in total. He was used by Hughes as the holding midfielder in a three-man midfield in a defensive 4–5–1 formation, a move which saw Blackburn concede fewer goals and move away from relegation danger. Hughes later reverted to a 4–4–2 formation. From then on, Mokoena found himself used sparingly as a holding midfielder in his favoured 4–5–1 formation as a second-half substitute, charged with protecting leads in games in which Blackburn were winning. With Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage
Robert William "Robbie" Savage is a football pundit and former Welsh professional footballer who played predominantly as a midfielder. During his career he captained Derby County, and also played for the Welsh national team. He now presents 606 on BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday evenings alongside...

 out injured for Rovers, Mokoena started most of the team's games in 2007 and he scored his first goal for Blackburn in an FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 6th round victory against Manchester City
Manchester City F.C.
Manchester City Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in Manchester. Founded in 1880 as St. Mark's , they became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894...

 on 11 March 2007. However, he was later sent off after getting a second yellow card. He scored his second and final Blackburn goal against Sunderland
City of Sunderland
The City of Sunderland is a local government district of Tyne and Wear, in North East England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough...

 in February 2009, again this time in the FA Cup replay in Rovers' 2-1 win at Ewood Park
Ewood Park
Ewood Park is a football stadium in the English town of Blackburn, Lancashire, and is the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club — one of the founder members of the Football League and Premier League. Rovers have played there since they moved from Leamington Street in the summer of 1890. The...

 which was also voted as goal of the season for the 2008-09 season. Mokoena played his final game for Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. The team currently competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football....

 on 24 May 2009 against West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park
Ewood Park
Ewood Park is a football stadium in the English town of Blackburn, Lancashire, and is the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club — one of the founder members of the Football League and Premier League. Rovers have played there since they moved from Leamington Street in the summer of 1890. The...

 in the 0-0 draw.

Portsmouth


On the 24th May he announced he would be joining fellow Barclays Premier League outfit Portsmouth
Portsmouth F.C.
Portsmouth Football Club is an English football club based in the city of Portsmouth. The club is nicknamed Pompey. Portsmouth's home matches have been played at Fratton Park since the club's formation in 1898. The team currently play in the Football League Championship after being relegated from...

 on a three-year deal. He scored his first goal for Portsmouth in the last minute of extra time to give them victory over Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena
Ricoh Arena
The Ricoh Arena , home to Coventry City F.C., is a stadium complex situated in the Rowleys Green district of the city of Coventry, England containing a 32,609 seater football stadium, a 6,000 square-metre exhibition hall, a hotel, a leisure club, and a casino...

 in the dying seconds in the FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 3rd round replay on 12 January 2010. This was one of the most important goals in the clubs history a it sent them through to the 4th round of the competition which they ended up being runners up to Chelsea. Aaron played a major part in the games against Coventry, Sunderland, South Coast rivals Southampton, Birmingham and Tottenham. He stated that he desired the move to secure regular football, especially in the run up to the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 his native.

Mokoena scored his first league goal in English football (having previously scored three in the FA Cup) when he netted on 58 minutes and completed the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 victory over Bristol City at Fratton Park
Fratton Park
Fratton Park is a football stadium in the English city-port of Portsmouth. It has been the home of professional club Portsmouth F.C. since its construction in 1898.-Description:...

 on 28 September 2010.

On 28 October 2010, Mokoena signed a new two-and-a-half year deal with Pompey lasting until summer 2013. He has currently made 70 appearances and has scored 3 goals for Portsmouth in all competitions. On 18 June 2011, he said that he could be leaving Portsmouth because he has been very frustrated at being on the bench on a regular basis.

International


Mokoena is known as "Mbazo" or "The Axe" because of his tough tackling skills. He is the youngest ever player to have represented South Africa
South Africa national football team
The South Africa national football team represents South Africa in association football and is controlled by the South African Football Association, the governing body for football in South Africa. South Africa's home ground is Soccer City, known as FNB Stadium due to a naming rights deal, in...

, having played in 1999 for the 2000 Summer Olympics
Football at the 2000 Summer Olympics
The football tournament at the 2000 Summer Olympics was the 20th official Olympic football tournament. A women's tournament was held for the second time.-Medal winners:-Venues:*Olympic Stadium, Sydney*Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney*Bruce Stadium, Canberra...

 qualifiers aged 18–19; he later replaced Lucas Radebe
Lucas Radebe
Lucas Valeriu Radebe is a former Leeds United and South African football player. During his career, Radebe was renowned for being a world-class centre back and a great ambassador for the sport....

 as captain of his country. He played for South Africa at the 2000 Olympics, where they finished third in Group D.

Mokoena has also played at the 2002 and 2004 Africa Cup of Nations. In January 2008, Mokoena captained South Africa in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

. He retained the captaincy for the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

, both held in his homeland. On 31 May 2010, he was named in South Africa's 23-man World Cup squad.

He won his 100th cap against Guatemala
Guatemala national football team
The Guatemala national football team is the association football team representing the country of Guatemala and is controlled by the Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala. Founded in 1919, it affiliated to FIFA in 1946, and it is a member of CONCACAF....

 in Polokwane
Polokwane
Polokwane, meaning "Place of Safety",is a city in the Polokwane Local Municipality and the capital of the Limpopo province, South Africa. It is also often referred to by its former name, Pietersburg. Polokwane is a major urban centre, the biggest and most important north of Gauteng. The population...

 in a 5-0 win on 3 May 2010, and celebrated by taking to the field wearing the number 100 on the back of his shirt. On 11 June 2010, he captained Bafana Bafana in the opening group game against Mexico
Mexico national football team
The Mexican national football team represents Mexico in association football and is governed by the Mexican Football Federation , the governing body for football in Mexico. Mexico's home stadium is the Estadio Azteca and their head coach is José Manuel de la Torre...

 of the 2010 World Cup and also played the full 90 minutes alongside Bongani Khumalo in a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

. On 16 June 2010, Mokoena again skippered the Bafana Bafana this time in their 3-0 defeat by Uruguay
Uruguay national football team
The Uruguayan national football team represents Uruguay in international association football and is controlled by the Uruguayan Football Association, the governing body for football in Uruguay. The current head coach is Óscar Tabárez...

 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium
Loftus Versfeld Stadium
Loftus Versfeld Stadium is a rugby and association football stadium situated in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. The stadium has a capacity of 51,762 for rugby union and hosted the 2009 Currie Cup final...

. On 22 June, he started in the 2-1 win over France
France national football team
The France national football team represents the nation of France in international football. It is fielded by the French Football Federation , the governing body of football in France, and competes as a member of UEFA, which encompasses the countries of Europe...

 at the Free State Stadium
Free State Stadium
The Free State Stadium , also known as Vodacom Park, is a stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, used mainly for rugby union and association football...

 in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

. As of 2011, Mokoena has won 104 caps for his country and has scored 1 goal since debuting back in 1999.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 8 October 2006 Lusaka
Lusaka
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. It is located in the southern part of the central plateau, at an elevation of about 1,300 metres . It has a population of about 1.7 million . It is a commercial centre as well as the centre of government, and the four main highways of Zambia head...

, Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 
1–0 1–0 ACN qualifier

Best position


There have been differences in opinion between Mokoena's various managers as to his best position. For South Africa, Mokoena has built a career as a rugged central defender, culminating in attaining his 100th cap just before the 2010 World Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

. However, in 2008, coach Parreira deployed Mokoena is the defensive midfield role only for South Africa to struggle and Mokoena to be reverted back to defence. At Blackburn Rovers, Mokoena was identified as a defensive midfielder rather than a defender. His manager at Blackburn used him in a five-man midfield to thwart opposition attacks with his physical size and strength. However, when Rovers returned to playing 4–4–2, Mokoena's technical deficiences were exposed and he lost his position in the team. Since moving to Portsmouth, Mokoena has once more emerged as a central defender.

External links