'We express ourselves when we showboat'

Ntsako Makhubela says he executes his ball tricks to control the tempo of the game. /Gerhard Duraan/ BackpagePix
Ntsako Makhubela says he executes his ball tricks to control the tempo of the game. /Gerhard Duraan/ BackpagePix

Golden Arrows dribbling wizard Ntsako Makhubela has shot down criticism of doing tricks with the ball during match as unsporting behaviour.

Showboating has a deep history in SA football, which was taken to new levels in 1970s by tricks which included Jomo Sono standing on the ball. In the 80s Professor Ngubane led a new generation of tricksters who bamboozled opponents.

From 1990s upwards players like Steve Lekoelea, Thabo Mooki, Jabu Mahlangu and Emmanuel 'Scara' Ngobese took over the entertainment duties for fans during matches, attracting criticsm by purists along the way.

In January this year, Orlando Pirates midfielder Fortune Makaringe drew Pitso Mosimane's ire when he stepped on the ball during their 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns.

The Sundowns coach felt the Pirates star lacked respect for opponents, but Makaringe, defended his approach by demanding that players be left alone to express themselves with the ball.

"If you look back at players we had in the past, the likes of Mooki, Lekoelea and Scara, did it before; why now we are being criticised for doing the same," Makhubela asked in an interview with Sowetan.

"It is the culture of SA football and if you are a player you just have to use what you have.

"The likes of Neymar and Ronaldinho are not criticised. If we are trying to express ourselves then it is a problem. I don't see it as a problem, nothing will stop me from doing it again."

Makhubela is in his first season in the Absa Premiership, and at 26 he's fairly late for elite league debut. But he is fast earning attention and admirers with his daring ball tricks.

The Joburg-born midfielder has started all 23 games, which a sign of consistency, since arriving from GladAfrica Championship side Real Kings.

Makhubela says he performs tricks sometimes to reduce the tempo of the match.

"It is not about me showboating at that particular time. If the tempo of the game is high then I need to slow it down... I am a versatile player."

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