Mvala: Why they ap­pre­ci­ate us

Soccer Laduma - - Front Page -

Mothobi Mvala is one of the first names on coach Owen da Gama’s team sheet be­cause he leaves ev­ery­thing on the field and has earned his stripes at the club. It was no fluke that he won the club’s Player of the Sea­son gong at the end of last sea­son, hav­ing cho­sen to go down with the team rather than en­ter­tain­ing any of­fers, real or imag­ined, from else­where for his ser­vices. Here Mvala re­veals that he is on a good, long-term con­tract with the Tem­bisa-based side, so any in­ter­ested par­ties will have to work very hard to woo him to their camp. In this in­ter­view, the gan­gly at­tacker tells Soc­cer Lad­uma’s Beaver Nazo about one of the high­lights of his ca­reer, while re­it­er­at­ing that the club is here to stay this time around.

Beaver Nazo: Mothobi, af­ter suf­fer­ing rel­e­ga­tion in 2016/17, High­lands Park seemed to oblit­er­ate all in front of them last sea­son in the NFD, win­ning the ti­tle with a whop­ping 67 points and scor­ing a record 63 goals in the process.

Mothobi Mvala: I think the fact that the team kept the core of the team that played in the Absa Pre­mier­ship the pre­vi­ous sea­son showed you how se­ri­ous they were about get­ting back. Even our salaries were the same when we were play­ing in the NFD. We also had a de­sire to re­turn to the elite league and I think that’s what brought us back. Re­mem­ber that we didn’t start well in the NFD. We drew about three games or so be­fore coach Owen da Gama came on board. He changed things around and ev­ery­thing was smooth sail­ing from when he took over un­til the end of the sea­son. Coach Owen also made a lot of sign­ings and, all of a sud­den, there was com­pe­ti­tion for places in the team. We were mo­ti­vated and he ended up hav­ing a headache when se­lect­ing the team be­cause he didn’t know who to leave out of the team. The records we broke in the NFD last sea­son speak vol­umes.

BN: A num­ber of clubs were re­ported to be queu­ing up for your sig­na­ture when the club went down and amongst them was one from Greece as well as Kaizer Chiefs. Why didn’t any of the moves ma­te­ri­alise?

MM: You know how it’s like in foot­ball, groot­man (big man) – when you are do­ing well, teams will be af­ter your sig­na­ture. I knew about the in­ter­est that the teams you men­tioned showed in me, but I had a con­tract with High­lands Park and I couldn’t just leave. I be­longed to them and the best thing for who­ever wanted me to do was to agree with High­lands Park about my move. All of that is in the past now and we are fo­cus­ing on the job at hand. We are striv­ing to be as com­pet­i­tive as we pos­si­bly can in the Absa Pre­mier­ship.

BN: Judg­ing by your per­for­mances so far this sea­son, the ‘vul­tures’ could soon move for your ser­vices. Do you have a buy­out clause in your con­tract?

MM: Ha, ha, ha, where are you go­ing with this now? No, I can­not an­swer that. The club’s pol­icy doesn’t al­low me to dis­cuss that and I hope you un­der­stand.

BN: The club’s Direc­tor, Larry Brook­stone, re­cently is­sued a state­ment, say­ing you and Peter Shalulile are not for sale and that you’re both are on lengthy and very good con­tracts at the Li­ons of the North.

MM: I don’t know (about) Peter’s con­tract, he can tell you him­self, but he is telling the truth about mine. He can never lie about some­thing like that. I am on a five-year con­tract with High­lands Park and I signed it when we got pro­moted. I don’t know how long Peter’s is.

BN: Of the 79 goals scored by the team last sea­son, you con­trib­uted 12 and as­sisted in a fur­ther 15. Is it the po­si­tion you play in or the sys­tem that the team plays that makes you very use­ful in at­tack?

MM: Yeah, it is the box-to-box role that I am play­ing in the team. But even when I am play­ing at the back, I like to score. I go up for all the set-plays be­cause I like to score. An­other thing is that when the strik­ers are do­ing the fin­ish­ing at train­ing, I al­ways join them.

BN: Oh, great. Be­ing part of the South African squad that went to par­tic­i­pate in the Olympics squad Rio de Janeiro in 2016 must rank as a high­light…

MM: That one was very big for me. It was very big be­cause you’ll re­mem­ber that I was play­ing in the NFD… imag­ine com­ing from NFD (and go­ing) straight to the Olympics in Rio. Even to­day, that re­mains the best mo­ment of my life. I was new to the team and I didn’t know most of the peo­ple there, but the guys had just played to­gether in the COSAFA Cup and won it. My back was against the wall al­ready, but the guys gave me a warm wel­come. It was coach Owen who se­lected me be­cause he saw po­ten­tial in me. I re­ally en­joyed the trip, even though I was a bit ner­vous.

BN: Sure. MM: Our first game was against Brazil. I couldn’t be­lieve it when the coach read my name in the start­ing line-up. I even pinched my­self. To make it even worse, coach Owen said to me, “Hey, Mothobi, you will be man-mark­ing Ney­mar.” Here I was, get­ting ex­cited that I will share the field with Ney­mar, and now I was be­ing given a task to man-mark him. But I took a deep breath and de­cided no, man, this is ac­tu­ally the time for me to shine. This was time for me to be known be­cause all eyes will be on him and, surely, peo­ple will take note of me if I marked him out of the game. I said, “Here’s my chance to make name for my­self.” Like I pre­dicted, even a lot of peo­ple here at home started tak­ing note of me from that day. There were a lot of peo­ple who didn’t know me, but af­ter that game, ev­ery­one knew who Mothobi Mvala is. I was very dis­ap­pointed to get a red card in that game, though, be­cause that

To dis­cuss this in­ter­view with Beaver, tweet him on @BeaverNazo15

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