Masalesa: One of the boys
BAFANA and Larissa midfielder, Lehlogonolo Masalesa,
pictured, is back in the national squad, after a lengthy absence, courtesy of new coach Stuart Baxter’s call-up to play in the COSAFA Cup.
Masalesa, 25, was called up during the era of former Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, although he was not capped.
The midfielder burst onto the scene, when he made his PSL debut for Platinum Stars back in the 2009/2010 season as a 17-year-old. He then joined Wits in late 2010, where he spent two seasons and after some fine displays, moved to Orlando Pirates in 2012.
In five seasons at Pirates, he did not get the game-time he would have been hoping and earlier this year, he signed for Greek side, Larissa, who finisged third in the Greek Super League.
In an interview with Safa, Masalesa reflected on his career and recent move abroad.
About being in the national squad, he said: “I am really glad to be back, it has been a long time in indeed. Back then Pitso Mosimane was the coach, even though I never played a match for Bafana Bafana.
“I am glad to be working with the new coach because I believe, as a footballer, working with someone like him will take me to the next level at club level.
“I am also happy to be part of the national team, and I hope, as we will be participating in the Cosafa Cup, we will do well and make the nation proud.”
He is relishing the prospect of making his hitherto elusive debut.
“As a footballer, you always have to fancy your chances to play, you always need to believe in yourself, and, given the opportunity, I think I can show what I am capable of.”
“The fact that I am here means things are going well for me, as my career got back on track the last six months.
“I got to Greece and I did what I had to do so things are really looking up, we will see what the future holds.”
“The level of training (in Greece) is at a higher notch; the football is a lot tougher; you need to concentrate a lot.
“You need to work very hard and be very sharp in your approach and execution of your duties. Touching on the lowest point in his young career, he said: “I started very well at Pirates and I believe I did well, especially in the Caf competition. But, as you know, things change in football. “Unfortunately, towards the end of my stay there, things changed for the worst for me, but luckily the overseas move came. Masalesa was hopeful of Bafana’s prospects in the COSAFA Cup “We have a very good crop of players and it makes me wonder how we lost in the Under-20 FIFA World Cup, with such good players. “I think there are a lot of young players who want to showcase their talent and there is a good blend of experienced guys, like Mario Booysen and Aubrey Ngoma, so we can do well. We must just apply ourselves and we will see what will happen. – ANA