A de­but sea­son to re­mem­ber for De Reuck

The Mercury - - SPORT - Mi­nenhle Mkhize

LON­DON: Chelsea’s Cesc Fabre­gas says he owes Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho a debt of grat­i­tude for hand­ing him a sec­ond chance in English foot­ball.

The Span­ish mid­fielder will hope to ruin Mour­inho’s day in to­mor­row’s FA Cup fi­nal against Manch­ester United and sal­vage some­thing from a dis­ap­point­ing campaign.

But win or lose, Fabre­gas says he is full of ad­mi­ra­tion for the man who signed him for Chelsea in 2014, dur­ing Mour­inho’s sec­ond spell in charge at Stam­ford Bridge.

Af­ter three years at boy­hood club Barcelona, fol­low­ing a move from Arse­nal where Fabre­gas spent al­most a decade, the 31-year-old proved a piv­otal fig­ure as Chelsea claimed the 2014-15 ti­tle, pro­vid­ing a league-lead­ing 18 goal as­sists.

“I love him. I al­ways say that. I owe him a lot be­cause he brought me here, I will al­ways re­mem­ber that,” Fabre­gas told re­porters at Chelsea’s train­ing ground this week.

“My first year here, (for­mer Arse­nal man­ager) Arsene (Wenger) had al­ways treated me like a son.

“But the clos­est any­one has been to him was Jose. The way he treated me, the way he made me feel, how he let me be a leader of the team from day one.

“This was fan­tas­tic and in all the four years since I joined Chelsea, now they will al­ways stay with me. This ex­pe­ri­ence is thanks to him.”

Yet Fabre­gas has spent a large part of his ca­reer in op­po­si­tion to Mour­inho – as he will do again at Wem­b­ley to­mor­row when Chelsea hope to make up for fin­ish­ing fifth in the Premier League with a first FA Cup win since 2012.

The early years of Fabre­gas’s stint at Arse­nal co­in­cided with Mour­inho’s ar­rival as man­ager of Chelsea, while he was also part of a Barcelona side that was vy­ing for Span­ish supremacy with Mour­inho’s Real Madrid.

“We have our his­tory be­tween us,” Fabre­gas said. “I played for Arse­nal and him at Chelsea.

Barcelona with him Real Madrid. We were con­fronting each other, but then we hum­bled our­selves and started a good re­la­tion­ship.

“This is very nice but hope­fully it will not be his day (to­mor­row) and Chelsea can win,” the Span­ish World Cup win­ner said.

Apart from Fabre­gas, sev­eral other play­ers from the 2014-15 ti­tle-win­ning team in­clud­ing Gary Cahill, Wil­lian and Eden Hazard will be in­volved to­mor­row.

While they will all be fa­mil­iar with Mour­inho’s meth­ods, Fabre­gas knows their old man­ager will con­jure some­thing new for a one­off game that means so much to both teams.

“In the last two years we played many games against them and he has changed the sys­tem many times. I am sure he will change some­thing again on Satur­day. You can ex­pect that.

“We just need to pre­pare our game and fo­cus on our­selves. We don’t need to be think­ing too much about what they are go­ing to do and we have to do what we do.”

United fin­ished run­ners-up in the Premier League and are favourites against a Chelsea side who ended the league sea­son with a 3-0 de­feat by New­cas­tle United.

Fabre­gas said last sea­son’s fi­nal when Chelsea lost to Arse­nal af­ter win­ning the Premier League ti­tle showed why the Wem­b­ley show­piece is so hard to call. “Any­thing can hap­pen re­ally,” he said. “Last year ev­ery­one was say­ing Chelsea will win it and we played one of our worst games of last sea­son.

“Mour­inho pre­pares fi­nals very well and I am sure An­to­nio (Conte) will do the same.”

PITSO Mosi­mane frowned at a sug­ges­tion that the Mamelodi Sun­downs defence may be the weak­est link in a team that has been incredibly con­sis­tent af­ter er­rors at the back gifted Barcelona two goals in their friendly match on Wed­nes­day night.

Per­haps it is a lit­tle un­fair to ar­gue that the coach should con­sider look­ing else­where to re­in­force his back four given they were play­ing against a team of Barcelona’s stature, but it must be pointed out that the mis­takes in the 3-1 de­feat were a bit school­boy­ish.

Just min­utes af­ter kick-off of the Nelson Man­dela Cen­te­nary clash at FNB Sta­dium, cen­tre­half Ban­galy Souma­horo care­lessly gave the ball away to Ous­mane Dem­bele who didn’t waste time mak­ing the Ivo­rian pay for sur­ren­der­ing possession so cheaply.

And then in the sec­ond half, cap­tain Hlom­pho Kekana was too ca­sual in play­ing the ball from the back as per Mosi­mane’s in­struc­tions at half-time, al­low­ing An­dre Gomes to ben­e­fit from the mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion to score what was then Barcelona’s third on the night.

“It was sim­ply stage fright, that is how to best sum it up. We were play­ing Barcelona, give the guys a chance.

“When we play against Pirates and Chiefs we don’t have this.” said Mosi­mane be­fore tak­ing of­fence when names of Bid­vest Wits duo, cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi, were put for­ward as al­ter­na­tive op­tions by a jour­nal­ist.

“They were ner­vous and had anx­i­ety.

“Ban­galy made a mis­take, it’s nor­mal. And Kekana nor­mally comes out with the ball at the back there, but they were a lit­tle con­fi­dent be­cause at half-time I told them to play the way Sun­downs way.

“I said they should not be afraid be­cause Ban­galy made a mis­take. Do you think Hlatshwayo could have stopped those goals? I mean re­ally ... “How can he stop Barcelona? He must stop Sun­downs first.” Although those two names ap­peared to rub the coach up the wrong way, the point was that when Sun­downs go up a level, like the Fifa Club World Cup in 2016 for in­stance, they seem to al­ways hold their own in at­tack. But their defence is of­ten their Achilles Heel. “I don’t agree that if we had signed other play­ers from wher­ever else we would have done bet­ter. No, we made mis­takes, let’s be hon­est. We gave them the two goals. But un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stance, we are not that bad.” said Mosi­mane. “The class of Dem­bele and them was there for ev­ery­one to see. “He is a 21-year-old who is right footed, but fin­ished that pow­er­fully with his left foot.

“We also knew that he cuts in a lot. I don’t think our defence was bad.

“If we didn’t give them the two goals, who knows, maybe we could have held on longer. But what we need to speak about is the (poor) fin­ish­ing in the coun­try.

“Our fin­ish­ing could have been bet­ter and I al­ways say to Percy Tau that we need to work on that.”

Whether Mosi­mane agrees or not, the Brazil­ians will have to learn not to be over­whelmed by the oc­ca­sion when they con­tinue their jour­ney to a sec­ond Club World Cup ap­pear­ance via the CAF Cham­pi­ons League route.

Sun­downs, the 2016 African cham­pi­ons, travel to Con­akry in Guinea to face Horoya in the group stages on Tues­day as they look for their first win fol­low­ing the 1-1 draw at home against defending cham­pi­ons Wy­dad Casablanca two weeks ago.

@su­per­journo THE fairy-tale of Mar­itzburg United’s young de­fender Rushine de Reuck has been a story of per­spi­ra­tion and in­spi­ra­tion.

The 22-year-old from Kle­in­fontein in Cape Town will play in his de­but fi­nal in top flight foot­ball in front of his fam­ily and com­mu­nity when the Team of Choice faces Free State Stars in the Ned­bank Cup fi­nal at the Cape Town Sta­dium to­mor­row night (kick-off 7pm).

In 2014 De Reuck was com­pelled to leave school in Grade 11 and pur­sue his dream of play­ing in Europe. But his ten­ure in Europe was cut short be­cause of home­sick­ness.

“I didn’t fin­ish ma­tric be­cause I de­cided to go to Europe in 2014. Foot­ball was the only thing I wanted to do. I have Grade 11. In Europe I played for Pa­cos de Ferreira in Por­tu­gal. They spot­ted me while I was play­ing in the Bay­hill Cup. I was part of the dream team. They choose the dream team that goes over­seas af­ter the tour­na­ment. I was with FC Porto for three months and then I went to Pa­cos de Ferreira. I wasn’t ma­ture enough. I was a young boy and missed home and I de­cided to come back,” De Reuck said.

De Reuck was signed by Mar­itzburg as a free agent at the start of the sea­son.

“Be­fore I came here I wasn’t play­ing at all. I took a gap year from foot­ball. I trained with Mi­lano United (Vo­da­com League). Then I came here last sea­son in April on trial. I clearly im­pressed and as they say, the rest is his­tory,” De Reuck ex­plained.

He has made 16 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son.

“I want to in­spire kids from my area. We are role mod­els to them. I have a younger brother (Re­dian) who plays for Mu­tual Academy. He is re­ally ex­cited. This is one of the main rea­sons I’m do­ing what I’m do­ing. I want to in­spire him. I want to show kids that any­thing is pos­si­ble if you work hard.”

What a story it will be for De Reuck to lift the tro­phy in front of his mother and sib­lings.

“It is an amaz­ing feel­ing. This is my first sea­son in top flight foot­ball and to be play­ing my first fi­nal in Cape Town in front of my fam­ily is re­ally amaz­ing. We’ve achieved a lot through­out the sea­son. This goes to show how much you can achieve if you work hard,” De Reuck said.

The Team of Choice aim to be­come the first KwaZulu-Natal club to lift the Ned­bank Cup since its in­cep­tion in 1971.

“My fam­ily is com­ing. I come from the ghetto. Peo­ple in my com­mu­nity can only dream of sit­u­a­tions like this. I’m re­ally proud of my­self and I’m sure they’re also proud. I have no doubt that they will come in their num­bers.”

Hlom­pho Kekana and Paulinho were con­stant com­pan­ions in the mid­dle of the park dur­ing the Nelson Man­dela Cen­te­nary Chal­lenge at FNB sta­dium on Wed­nes­day night.

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