Os­carine kicks his way into his­tory

The Giyani-born out­ra­geous su­per-scorer is as be­mused and elated as his new­found fans across the world

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

In a week when the world was mourn­ing the tragic pass­ing of foot­ball play­ers from Brazil – who were among the 71 pas­sen­gers killed when the plane they were on crashed into a hill­side near Medellin in Colom­bia – it was only fit­ting that there was some­thing to cel­e­brate. Mon­day’s plane tragedy wiped out al­most the en­tire Chapecoense team and coach­ing staff. The plane was tak­ing the ris­ing Brazil­ian foot­ball stars to Medellin to com­pete in the fi­nal of the Su­damer­ica Cup against Atlético Na­cional of Colom­bia.

Then, in the midst of all the sad­ness, a South African gave the world some­thing to be cheer­ful about – a mo­ment of bril­liance for the world to cel­e­brate.

It her­alded a re­mark­able week in South African foot­ball, sur­pris­ing every­one – in­clud­ing man of the mo­ment Os­carine Ma­su­luke.

The Baroka goal­keeper net­ted a spec­tac­u­lar goal in dra­matic fash­ion – with a bi­cy­cle kick – in the sixth minute of ad­di­tional time. His side was trail­ing Or­lando Pi­rates by a sin­gle goal in an Absa Pre­mier­ship clash at Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium.

The as­tound­ing vic­tory came a day af­ter an­other dra­matic mo­ment – when ref­eree Vic­tor Gomes sent off a ball boy in the game be­tween Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City, af­ter he threw a sec­ond ball onto the pitch while the first was still in play. Pun­dits de­scribed it as a pos­si­ble world first.

Ma­su­luke’s goal could be a con­tender for the foot­ball Os­cars, the Fifa Puskás Awards, in the cat­e­gory of best goal of the year – but only for next year’s con­test as en­tries for this year are closed.

Of course, a goal­keeper’s pri­mary role is to stop goals. But when they score a goal, it makes in­ter­na­tional head­lines. So, it was not sur­pris­ing that 23-year-old Ma­su­luke be­came an in­stant in­ter­na­tional hero fol­low­ing his ex­tra­or­di­nary kick on Wed­nes­day night.

Footage of the goal has since gone vi­ral on so­cial me­dia and has been fea­tured on the web­sites of news­pa­pers around the world‚ in­clud­ing most of the UK’s ma­jor pub­li­ca­tions, such as The Guardian‚ The Tele­graph‚ The Sun and the Daily Mail.

A day af­ter sal­vaging a draw for his side against the Buc­ca­neers with his spec­tac­u­lar last­minute equaliser, Ma­su­luke was still on cloud nine as he rem­i­nisced about the won­der goal. “I didn’t sleep last night,” he said. “In fact, no one slept as we went through that mo­ment again and again. Even now, when I see it, I still can­not be­lieve it. I am shocked that I did some­thing like this. I will cher­ish that mo­ment for the rest of my life.” He would do it again given the op­por­tu­nity. “It was all about tak­ing my chances. I hap­pened to be at the right place at the right time. But it was no fluke as I used to score goals when I was a striker.” So what made him push for­ward? He said his coach, Kgoloko Thobe­jane, en­cour­aged him to go out in their pre­vi­ous game against Cape Town City, but he lacked the courage to do so. “This time, I felt con­fi­dent as I was an­gry that the ref­eree did not pro­tect me when I was fouled, which led to Pi­rates’ goal. I wanted to make amends for that, so when the chance came, I did not hes­i­tate to leave my post and go for it.” Ma­su­luke com­pared this game with matches he played three years ago, against cur­rent Pi­rates goalscorer Jus­tice Cha­bal­ala, back in his home­town of Giyani in Lim­popo. “Back then, he [Cha­bal­ala] would score for his club and I would score for mine. So, when he scored against me on Wed­nes­day night, it didn’t go down well with me. I wanted to can­cel his goal.”

But Ma­su­luke is not get­ting car­ried away and says he still has a long way to go. “We have only played 10 games and there are 20 more to go. I am still learn­ing the ropes of the pro­fes­sional league and have learnt so much from my mis­takes. I think I am im­prov­ing with ev­ery game and will take it one game at a time.”

While many have touted the goal as a se­ri­ous con­tender for the goal of the sea­son, Ma­su­luke said he did not want to think about the award as yet.

And the dance? “My wife sent me a video of the dance af­ter I missed her birth­day cel­e­bra­tion ear­lier this year. This was my way of mak­ing up for not hav­ing cel­e­brated with her, be­cause that’s how she was danc­ing on her big day.”

He hopes to show­case his dance moves again in fu­ture as he will not hes­i­tate to push for­ward when his team needs him. The world can’t wait!

PHOTO: PHILIP MAETA / GALLO IMAGES

BRIL­LIANT Os­carine Ma­su­luke scored a last­minute equaliser for Baroka in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion

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