Masina: Benni didn’t want me

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“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

stand.

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. ❐

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