Mabasa never lacked belief in his ability in front of goal

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates has scored three goals and provided two assists in the Nedbank Cup this season. | BackpagePix

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates has scored three goals and provided two assists in the Nedbank Cup this season. | BackpagePix

Published May 29, 2024



Tshegofatso Mabasa has ample belief in his qualities, so much so that he’s always known that it was only a matter of time before he was living up to expectations at Orlando Pirates.

Mabasa finished as the DStv Premiership’s top goalscorer this season, finding the net 16 times between spells at Pirates and Moroka Swallows. The 27-year-old was on loan at Swallows for the first half of the season, scoring six goals, before returning to Pirates in January where he scored the rest.

Tshegofatso Mabasa has been nominated for the Nedbank Cup player of the tournament award. | BackpagePix

Mabasa’s return to Pirates has also seen him score three goals and register two assists in the Nedbank Cup, in which the Sea Robbers face Mamelodi Sundowns in the final at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

For his contribution in the Cup, the Botshabelo-born striker has been nominated for the player of the tournament award, alongside teammate Patrick Maswanganyi and Stellenbosch striker Iqraam Rayners. But while that would seem validation of his performances this season, Mabasa never stopped believing that he’d one day set top-flight football alight.

“I have been a person that believes in himself,” said Mabasa, who was also the top goalscorer at some point in the DStv Diski Challenge while still on the books of Bloemfontein Celtic.

“I feel like this club gave me the right platform, especially with the players around me. With the number of chances that we are creating, it was just a matter of time (before I score goals).

“But like I said, I believe in my abilities and I want to score goals. So, that is exactly what I was doing.”

Mabasa couldn’t have done it all on his own, though. His coach Jose Riveiro has ensured that he built his team around him.

The team’s ball players Maswanganyi, Kabelo Dlamini and Relebohile Mofokeng dance their way into the box and always find Mabasa. Mabasa lauded his coach for believing in him, saying that he’s been having a great time at the club.

“He’s a coach that believes in his players,” Mabasa said. “As long as you put in the work at training, he’ll give you confidence.

“For every player in this league, if you find the coach that believes in your abilities and gives you that confidence, then you are bound to perform.

“So, that is what happened with me, they welcomed me back at the club and everything has been going well for me so far.”

But while he was warmly received back at Pirates, Mabasa hasn’t convinced Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos that he deserves a spot in his team. Mabasa was overlooked by the Belgian for his 36-man preliminary squad that will face Nigeria and Zimbabwe in the World Cup qualifiers next month.

Asked yesterday during their pre-match media conference at Orlando Stadium what he thought of the snub, Mabasa said he was not worried.

“In all honesty, not really,” Mabasa replied.

“Every player wants to play for the national team, but I believe that if it’s meant to happen, then it will happen. Look at ‘Mshishi’ (Themba Zwane), he wasn’t selected at all in the national team but now he’s selected for every camp.

“It’s not something that I think about a lot. Yes, I have been doing well but like I said, if it’s meant to happen then it will happen. So, I am not worried about that at all.”

With Broos set to announce his final 23-man squad tomorrow ahead of the team’s visit to Nigeria next week, Mabasa could still get a late call-up.

After all, just like he said, Broos has had a change of heart regarding Zwane, whom he had initially ruled out of his plans due to his age. But first Mabasa must deliver his team to the promised land in Mbombela so that they can complete a cup final double over the Brazilians after beating them in the MTN8 late last year.

“This is a very big game, but I know that we will come well prepared for this game as well,” Mbasa explained.

“It won’t be easy, but it will be about who wants it more on the day, I think. But I know that the boys will give it their all. I have my full confidence that we’ll go all the way.”