Cape Town - As one of the youngest players on show at VfB Stuttgart’s winter training base in Cape Town, Rani Khedira still has much to learn.

The 19-year-old made just two league appearances during the Hinrunde, but is already feeling the benefit of five days’ hard graft away from the hustle and bustle of the Bundesliga.

'I’m always an option'


“First and foremost, it’s about us all getting fully fit and improving so that we’re at 100 per cent and ready to go for the restart,” Khedira told vfb.de. “From my own point of view, I want to play my part in fulfilling those goals and show the coach that I’m always an option.”

Injury ruled the midfielder out of his club’s first outing in the southern hemisphere - a comfortable 5-0 win over local outfit Vasco de Gama - but he remains as upbeat as ever ahead of a year which could well see the VfB youth product at long last step out from under the shadow of older brother, Sami.

'People here are so nice'


Like his younger sibling, Sami had to bide his time before eventually breaking onto the Bundesliga scene in 2006. Four years later, he had become one of football’s must-have midfielders following a handful of notable displays at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is a South African summer Rani has not forgotten.

“I was only here for two or three days,” he recalled. “I went to Table Mountain, but I didn’t really get to know the culture. Being back here, though, has only reaffirmed my impression of the place, namely that the people here are so nice and helpful. I let people in on that before we came to the training camp.”

VfBafana for life


With fond memories of his first trip to the Rainbow Nation, Khedira Jnr. is now hoping to leave a lasting impression of his own come the end of his second. “They’re aware of us over here and have seen us on TV, but we’re not as well-known as Europe’s biggest clubs,” he explained.

If the last five days are anything to go by, however, VfBafana are already well on their way to reaching the top of the popularity ladder. Indeed, by the time Stuttgart round off their mid-season workout on 16 January, the Bundesliga-hungry locals won’t even want Khedira and Co. to leave.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge