Cameron Carnell looking to carry the family name

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Highly-rated wing-back Cameron Carnell is looking to carry on the family legacy after impressing with Maritzburg United in the DStv Diski Challenge.

Carnell is the nephew of former South Africa international, Bradley, who turned out for Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United in the domestic top-flight, as well VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Karlsruher and Hansa Rostock in the Bundesliga during an illustrious career.

The latter has since hung up his playing boots, although is still involved in the game after being appointed as the head coach of Major League Soccer expansion franchise St. Louis City earlier this month, but Carnell is carrying on the family name by forging a burgeoning career of his own at the Team of Choice.

"I want to keep the family name going in the sport," Carnell tells snl24.com/kickoff. "As much as that puts pressure on me to perform, it motivates me as well.

"It motivates me to be able to say to myself, 'Hey, you've got this. You're a Carnell. You can be as good as your uncle was and maybe even better.' So it's a bit of pressure and motivation. I want to be like him and try to get to an even better level than he did throughout his career."

Carnell has been playing football since the age of three and was previously on the books of the now-defunct Bidvest Wits, who signed him when he was 14-years-old after he had been invited to trial with the club by ex-Bafana striker, Glen Salmon.

However, his time with the Clever Boys ultimately came to a premature end when the club's PSL status was sold to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in 2020 and he opted to seek out new opportunities elsewhere.

"It was during those times when Covid first struck so, already, we weren't playing and training and then in the middle of the year, we got hit with the message that the club had been sold," the former Waterstone College student explains. 

"I was stressing a bit but at the same time I knew that there would be opportunities elsewhere... There was an offer [to remain at TTM] but Maritzburg United phoned my agents, who told me that the club wanted to have a look at me."

The Pietermaritzburg-based side didn't need much convincing and quickly signed Carnell to a first-team contract in 2020, although he would initially team up with the DStv Diski side, before handing him his professional debut a year later during the 3-1 Nedbank Cup defeat to Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates.

Scroll through the gallery above to see images from Carnell's professional debut against Orlando Pirates last year

"It was great," Carnell says, when asked to share the experience of making his senior debut. "Coming through the ranks, I used to watch these big teams and their players, the [Fortune] Makaringe's, the [Deon] Hotto's. Hotto was there at Wits so I knew him from before, and I trained with [Thabang] Monare as well, but it was nice to actually come up against them.

"They were some of the players I looked up to in South Africa and wanted to be like because they made that step. It was crazy, though, because it was a good game for me even though we lost but it was a really nice experience to play against those sort of players and to be involved, so I'm looking forward to more of that."

That outing remains the promising defender's only appearance with the first team to date, although he has featured on the bench on seven other occasions, but he has continued to impress with the reserve side in the interim and was named Man of the Match following his team's 1-1 draw against AmaZulu earlier this month.

Carnell's performance against Usuthu's Diski outfit came on the back of a string of impressive displays by the attack-minded wing-back this season and it now appears only a matter of time before he cements his place as a permanent fixture within the first-team squad.

"I don't think I'm far [away from breaking into the first team] at all," he concludes. "I think the position we're in [in the league] – not that we're close to relegation but we're at the point where we need to push on – means coach Ernest [Middendorp] probably wants to rely on some of the more experienced guys to push the club up the table.

"I've just got to keep pushing and getting those Man of the Match awards in the Diski Challenge and it will come."