Masina: Benni didn’t want me
“I could tell that things were not looking good for me”
Sibusiso Masina was one of the 'founder members' of Cape Town City, so to speak, but his career at the club came to an end at the end of last season, after falling out of favour with coach Benni McCarthy. He recently signed for Free State Stars after undergoing assessment at the club and is hoping to do better than the seven goals he dished up in his two-year spell down in the Mother City. In this interview with Soccer Laduma’s Beaver Nazo, the 28-year-old reveals the baffling nature of his Citizens departure and says he came close to joining SuperSport United.
Beaver Nazo: Ea Lla Koto seem to be becoming draw specialists of late, having drawn your last two league games, against Golden Arrows and Black Leopards respectively.
Sibusiso Masina: I think our problem is that we always concede first and that unsettles us in most games. We end up chasing games and the teams always consolidate after scoring. That then makes it difficult for us to win. Having said that, these are the types of games we are supposed to be winning, especially playing at home. I mean, we conceded early against Arrows, only to score in the last minutes. We will get better though because our coach (Luc Eymael) is working very hard to make us improve on that. We are also working very hard and following the coach’s instructions.
BN: Sbuda, you made your Free State Stars debut in the derby against Bloemfontein Celtic, coming on in the 88th minute…
SM: Eish, the feeling of being out there on the field is always good,
bhuti wami (my brother), I don’t want to lie to you. It was really good to be out there. You know, in football you have to be grateful for every little opportunity you get. The supporters were amazing and I enjoyed every moment of it.
BN: Nice to hear!
SM: The welcome that I got here from the guys was amazing. They showed me love from the first day. I know a lot of the guys here because we’ve been playing against each other in the Absa Premiership. Working with a coach like coach Eymael, who always wants to win things, is also a great opportunity and a motivating factor for me. Remember he is the one who phoned me when he heard that I was no longer with Cape Town City. At that time, I was at home back in Daveyton but training with the other guys in my hood.
BN: You’ve signed a one-year deal, meaning it’s important that you have a good season if you want to make your mark at the club.
SM: Yeah, that is the plan. I will work very hard to get the one-year option on my contract exercised by the club. If I do well here, it might lead to the clubs that were interested in me to come back and renew their interest in me.
BN: Which clubs are those?
SM: Well, it was SuperSport United. I spoke to their boss, Mr Stan Matthews. As for the other clubs, it was just rumours because they have never spoken to me about joining them.
BN: Why didn’t you join Matsatsantsa a Pitori then?
SM: I was waiting for Cape Town City to tell me if they were going to exercise the option in my contract or not. When they didn’t, I spoke to Mr Matthews again and told him that I was free. He never got back to me. If I could say I know what happened or why I didn’t join SuperSport, I would be lying to you. I really don’t know what happened there…
BN: Okay. But why did you leave Cape Town City, to start with?
SM: I was surprised about that. The boss (John Comitis) came to me and told me that he wanted to renew my contract, but that the coach (Benni McCarthy) had said I was not in his plans for this season. But that is how football works sometimes. Life goes on. BN: Did coach Benni speak to you directly regarding that? SM: No, I only spoke to the boss and he said it wouldn’t be fair of him to exercise my option whereas the coach had made it clear that I was not in his plans. That was fair enough for me, that the boss told me all that. I never spoke to coach Benni about that or my performances because I was playing, which means I was performing.
BN: Well, seven goals in 77 appearances in all competitions for The Citizens isn’t really ‘performing’ though, is it?
SM: Yeah, I know and I fully agree with you on that one. It is something I have to work on and I am busy working on my finishing every day. I need to put away the chances I get in every game.
BN: Your goal tally of only seven goals in 77 games for City, don’t you think is where the problem lied? That if you had scored more goals you would have found yourself in Benni’s good books?
SM: Well, I don’t know… it might be the problem, but if you compare me with the other attacking players that were there, I would be in the top four or five. Yes, I agree it wasn’t a good record, but that applies to almost all the attacking players the team had. But that is not an excuse, so maybe that is what I needed to do. BN: How was your working relationship with the coach? SM: Our working relationship was normal, even though we never talked much. It was a normal player-coach relationship. However, I could see the signs, because I was sometimes played at right back in training and then, come the day of the match, I would be played in an attacking position. I could tell that things were not looking good for me at the club. I am happy that I was able to tell my former teammates that I would not be coming back from the off- season. The boss only told me a week before we closed and I only told the guys once I was home that I would not be coming back. M o st of them were shocked because I was playing in most of our games. BN: Sure. SM: Even building up to the MTN8 final, I was sometimes put aside at training when we did the 11 v 11 sessions, but to my surprise, I was in the 18man squad that travelled for the final. Again, the coach never said anything to me. God knows what is in store for each and everyone of us, me included. I am glad to be working with a hard-working coach like coach Luc. You can see from the work he puts in that this coach really wants to win things.
BN: As a former striker himself, what did coach Benni do to help improve your game?
SM: Coach Benni and I never really talked. He was only talking to me when addressing all the players. He never called me and explained to me where I needed to improve, etc. He never really pointed out to me the areas of my game that needed to be improved, but I would always be part of the team even when I was sidelined in the 11 v 11 at training. I would make the 18-man match day squad. That is what I didn’t under
BN: How did that whole experience at City make you feel?
SM: I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but again, it was a shock because despite the things that were happening at training, come match day I was playing. It was confusing really. I didn’t understand what was happening. But, hey, it is all in the past now and I have moved on.
BN: Did you speak to anyone about your situation?
SM: I used to talk about it with the senior players, like Vincent Kobola and Teko Modise. They would tell me, “Hey, boy, this is football and you need to be strong.” They really encouraged me. I really had to grow balls. I mean, if the coach doesn’t see me good enough for his team, then there was nothing I could do. I didn’t understand what was happening. At least if I knew what was wrong, I would have worked on it and fixed it, but sadly, I really don’t know to this day. I am however grateful to the boss for giving me the opportunity to play for his team.
BN: What expectations do you have now that you are wearing a different jersey?
SM: Look, this team has the potential to do what they did last season and that is to win a trophy. There’s a lot of potential here and we have a very good coach who works very hard. Coach Luc is the type of coach that rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty. He is a very passionate coach. Honestly speaking, I don’t see this team fighting relegation.
BN: Sbuda, thank you for your time and good luck.
SM: It was a pleasure talking to you, bhuti wam. ❐