Bucs’ last game a redemption challenge for Mabasa

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates celebrates one of his Golden Boot contenders’ goals. | BackpagePix

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates celebrates one of his Golden Boot contenders’ goals. | BackpagePix

Published May 25, 2024


TSHEGOFATSO MABASA has delivered some iconic celebrations this season. He has delighted when he cupped his ear, waiting to hear the crowd shout his name. The Ghost has gone delirious when he struck the Lotus pose after finding the opposition net. Orlando Stadium duly responded when he did the stand tall applause cue.

It has been a fantastic season for the 27-year-old as he enjoyed his “best ever” campaign in the top-flight, in which he has scored 18 goals in 31 matches across all competitions so far.

Yet despite this incredible feat, achieved via spells at both Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates, Mabasa was overlooked for the one recognition all players crave – a call up to the national team.

The Buccaneers forward was inexplicably excluded by Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos in the 36-man provisional squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

All is not lost though. Prior to Broos’ final squad announcement on Monday noon, Mabasa can give the Belgian some food for thought later this afternoon.

Pirates will face SuperSport United in their last DStv Premiership match for the season, needing to win if they are to keep their chances of finishing second alive.

Pirates don’t have their fate in that bid in their hands, though, as they are third on the table, one point behind the second-place occupants Stellenbosch.

But should Richards Bay manage to tame Stellies in a simultaneous kick-off (3pm), and Pirates win at Orlando Stadium, Mabasa and Co will return to the Champions League next season.

And there could be no better time for Mabasa to put his scoring boots back on after Pirates failed to find the opposition net in their previous two matches that ended in defeats to Richards Bay and TS Galaxy.

After all, not only would this help him leave Broos with egg all over his face for snubbing him, but the striker would be setting himself up for winning the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot.

Mabasa leads the race for the top scorer award with 15 league goals, one more than Stellies’ Iqraam Rayners, who was the big winner at his club’s end-of-the-season awards.

Rayners is all but assured to make Broos final squad come Monday, having been called-up in the Fifa series pilot project, which was recently held in Algeria.

But a solid performance from Mabasa against SuperSport could still see Broos have a change of heart, and call him up for the must-win qualifiers in Uyo and Bloemfontein.

Broos has said publicly that "I am no fool and will change my mind" when there’s a need, and lived up to this when he changed his view about Mamelodi Sundowns’ Themba Zwane.

The silver-haired former Africa Cup of Nations winning coach had argued that at 34, Zwane was too old to play for Bafana. Yet upon calling him up, the erstwhile Cameroon coach admitted that “Mshishi” had become one of the best players he has ever coached.

Cape Town City forward Khanyiso Mayo, who was also not in the preliminary squad for the Fifa series, jumped straight into Broos’s 23-man squad.

So, Mabasa cannot afford to stop dreaming because anything can still happen from Monday morning until the day the teams leave for Uyo.

But first, he must deliver a performance that will be hard for “The Ghost” to ignore this afternoon against SuperSport, and then in the Nedbank Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns next Saturday, to leave Broos with no choice but to call him up.

He shouldn’t struggle in that regard too, Mabasa having already scored a hat-trick and a brace on five occasions this season, all of which were celebrated with some iconic celebrations.