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'Sometimes you need coaches who believe in you': Ramoreboli on Mabasa's struggles

Bafana Bafana striker Tshegofatso Mabasa celebrates a goal during the 2023 Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at Princess Magogo Stadium, KwaMashu, on July 11 2023.
Bafana Bafana striker Tshegofatso Mabasa celebrates a goal during the 2023 Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at Princess Magogo Stadium, KwaMashu, on July 11 2023.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana's Cosafa Cup coach Morena Ramoreboli has shared advice on how some of his colleagues can get the best out of sidelined Orlando Pirates striker Tshegofatso Mabasa.

After securing a high-profile move to Pirates from Bloemfontein Celtic in 2019, things have not gone according to plan for Mabasa.  

The Celtic development player’s game time at Pirates kept dwindling until he was shipped out on loan to Sekhukhune United before last season. Even at a smaller club Mabasa battled for success, scoring just two goals and providing as many assists from 20 appearances in all competitions.

The striker is not part of the technical team’s plans at Pirates, with the club saying he is in negotiations to secure a move to Swallows FC.  

Mabasa, 26, was a national hero on Tuesday when he scored a brace off the bench in Bafana’s 2-1 victory over Eswatini at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban to send South Africa to the Cosafa Cup semifinals.  

In the previous match, a 2-1 win against Botswana, Mabasa was a villain and was booed by fans for missing in front of an open goalmouth.  

“That’s football. We need to understand one game doesn’t make you a bad player,” Ramoreboli said after the match against Eswatini.  

“Sometimes you need coaches who will believe in you as a player when you are down and who give you confidence.  

“We have given our players the belief that they are important and that is why they are here. For them to go in there, fighting even when things are tough, it’s a true reflection of what we do when no-one is there to see.  

“I’m happy he managed to come back and score the important two goals.”  

Ramoreboli and Mabasa worked together during their days at Celtic's youth structures.  

Before his move to Pirates, the forward had scored 10 goals in 27 games for now defunct Phunya Sele Sele in the 2018-2019 season.  

“It was also a risk and motivation for Mabasa to say he needs to come back and remind people who Tshegofatso Mabasa is,” Ramoreboli said.  

“Here we have 23 players and you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every one of them. And when you play them, you need to remind them of their strengths and try as hard as you can not to remind them of their weaknesses.  

“Tshego can score goals at any time. He might not give you what Victor Letsoalo will give you in being quick into spaces and all of that, like Iqraam Rayners [also can], but Tshego is a finisher.  

“You need to play in areas where Tshego can get goals. And again, we need to be honest, he was a bit rusty because at club level he was not getting enough minutes.  

“At Sekhukhune he didn’t play much, so coming here he needed people who would say to him, ‘Tshego, you are good when you do this, go and do this’. If you check when he came in, we said go and stay between the two centre backs.  

“Any ball that dropped there, he was available to take it and score goals.”

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