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Soccer Laduma - - Make Your Point - ABEDNEGO NETSHIOZWI By Lunga Adam

“I re­ceived Blose’s pack­age, well en­dowed.”

Abednego Netshiozwi, a street-smart de­fender in his hey­day, started his PSL ca­reer at African Wan­der­ers, whom he joined from lower league side Mabopane Young Masters in 2000. He also played for Ria Stars, Or­lando Pi­rates and FC AK, be­fore de­cid­ing to hang up his boots in 2010 af­ter a spell with Dy­namos. “I could see the sunset of my ca­reer on the hori­zon, be­cause I moved from the PSL back to the NFD. I had to pre­pare for the fu­ture,” he re­mem­bers. Nowa­days, the man known as ‘Tsotsi Num­ber One’ is as­sis­tant coach at Buya Msuthu in the ABC Mot­sepe League, and the CAF B Li­cence holder boasts that they are un­beaten this sea­son, af­ter seven games so far.

Abednego, good to have you on this page this week. So African Wan­der­ers is where it all started for you, right?

Yes. I was very happy when I signed for the team, as it was the re­al­i­sa­tion of a long-stand­ing dream to play in the PSL. I stayed at Abaqu­lusi for two sea­sons and it was well worth it. The only prob­lem is that when I got there, and be­ing a lad from Pre­to­ria, I strug­gled com­mu­ni­cat­ing in IsiZulu. Dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions, all I would of­fer to the ta­ble was, “Ehe, ehe.” He, he. The guys would say stuff in front of me and I would be none the wiser. How­ever, as time went on, I be­came fully con­ver­sant in the lan­guage, and that was mainly due to the as­sis­tance of Tholo­muzi Blose and Wel­come ‘Mshini’ Maz­ibuko. I used to be in their com­pany at most hours of the day, and when­ever some­thing was said that I couldn’t hear, I would ask them, “Bathini? Bathini? (What are they say­ing? What are they say­ing?)” Only to find out that, at times, that per­son was just greet­ing me, ha, ha, ha. Look, Wan­der­ers was a nice team and the play­ers used to stay at the flats in town. I re­mem­ber we used to get paid by en­ve­lope. The late Mr (Vusi) Mkhize, club owner, would come bear­ing our cash. He would go from win­dow to win­dow, so to speak. He would open the win­dow of your room slightly and ask, “Who’s this?” You had to say your name, af­ter which he would hand you your en­ve­lope. Lis­ten to this, I once pulled a fast one on him! Next to my hid­den face, I de­cided to put the name of one of the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in the team. So that when the un­sus­pect­ing Mr Mkhize was on the other side of the win­dow, ask­ing me to part with my name, I pro­fessed be­fore God and man, “Tholo­muzi Blose it is, Sir!” Ha, ha, ha. I re­ceived Blose’s pack­age, well en­dowed. Sad to say my trick didn’t pro­duce the de­sired re­sult, be­cause when the real Blose stood up, my face was en­veloped in sad­ness. That aside, I had a blast...

Sure.

It was my firstrst team inn thete eli­teete league,eague li­kee I said. Do you re­mem­ber my first game, which was against Mamelodi Sun­downs? They beat us 5-1 and I scored our con­so­la­tion goal. I couldn’t be­lieve that I had just put one over John Tlale, whom I used to watch on TV. Whilst ev­ery­one was pulling faces in the dress­ing room af­ter the game, I was the hap­pi­est of the lot, brag­ging about my ex­ploits to ev­ery­one who cared to lis­ten. This re­minds me of our PRO at the time, Nh­lanhla Sit­hole, who was a staunch Kaizer Chiefs fan. When­ever Amakhosi had to come to Dur­ban to face us, he feigned sick­ness be­cause he wanted to watch his beloved team on TV. One time we were go­ing to play Chiefs up in Jo­han­nes­burg and I was sit­ting next to him in the flight. He says to me, “He monna, Net­shodwe, how are you go­ing to be able to mark ‘Tsiki-Tsiki’ (Thabo Mooki)? He’s hot prop­erty!” To say that I was left speech­less would be un­der­stat­ing that mo­ment.

Ha, ha, ha!

I shared a room with Maz­ibuko and stayed with Nh­lanhla, also known as Alaska, and Solly Nke­tle. See­ing they were also from Jozi, it meant I could speak Sotho when I was wwitht tthem.em Bu­tut thete guys were serse­ri­ousous there. t ere Af­ter train­ing, the play­ers would get into their cars and go home. It’s at Ria Stars where I found char­ac­ters. I’m talk­ing about the likes of Frank Makua, the late Tha­bang Lebese, Tim­o­thy ‘RDP’ Nkosi, Them­binkosi Biyela, Humphrey Ml­wane, Thapelo Liau, Lucky Lekg­wathi, Saul Mo­lapo and Sid­ney Moshikaro.

Tell us more about those.

I had an ad­van­tage be­cause Lekg­wathi and Mo­lapo are my home­boys, so I didn’t strug­gle much. I had also played with some of the guys in the NFD. I shared a room with Teko Modise, wet be­hind the ears then. Lebese, Nkosi and Makua were the fun­nier fel­lows there and you would al­ways laugh in their com­pany, while I also had a funny side to me since I was quite young. Our coach, Ja­cob Sakala, was fond of jokes. I re­mem­ber a funny story about him, but it hap­pened when I was at Dy­namos. It was end of the month and he went to town. The club boss, Pat Mal­a­bela, phoned him and asked him, “Hey, Sakala, tell me, what’s hap­pen­ing there at train­ing now?” Sakala re­sponded, “Hey, boss, I’m tak­ing these boys through their paces.” Ha, ha, ha, lit­tle did he know that Mal­a­bela was driv­ing just be­hind him. Eish, uzohleka ebholeni (you’ll laugh in foot­ball)! I stayed there for one sea­son, be­fore the club was sold to the League, to­gether with Free State Stars. That’s when Liau, Lekg­wathi and I joined Pi­rates.

Oh, yes, we re­mem­ber...

Bekugcwele (It was over­crowded), yho! When we got there, there must have been about 40 play­ers. We found the likes of Josep Ngake, Bruce Ramokadi, Ger­ald Raphahlela, Edel­bert Dinha, Jimmy Tau, Bene­dict Vi­lakazi and Joseph Makhanya there. But we got a nice wel­come from the guys. Since Lekg­wathi and I were dark in com­plex­ion, most of the guys thought we were for­eign­ers. They would speak English with us, ask­ing, “How are you guys?” One time. I just said, “Hey, Ngake, a bolele nna Sotho maan.” He was so sur­prised and said, “He banna! Batswa Pi­tori batho (Good­ness me! They’re from Pre­to­ria)!” I’m re­minded of this one time when I was still at Wan­der­ers and we played against Chiefs. I was mark­ing Arthur Zwane, so ‘Skhokho’ (Cyril Nzama) told him, “Arthur, awuqede leli gogogo (have a go at him).” They were so shocked to hear me re­spond­ing in Sotho. I said, “Ja, ke a utlwa (I can hear you).” At Pi­rates, we were like a fam­ily. Af­ter games, we would go out, have braaied meat some­where and talk about the mis­takes we made in the game. We had fan­tas­tic team spirit and that’s why we won games un­der Kosta Papic. kakhulu (We loved each other a lot). There was no jeal­ousy and there was healthy com­pe­ti­tion. Ev­ery Wed­nes­day we used to play 11 v 11 games and it was re­ally tough there. I wouldn’t care that Makhanya was my friend, I would kick him to pieces be­cause I wanted to be in the team. I used to tell him, “Duku-Duku, you want to drib­ble me? Okay, I will kick you. I can see you don’t want to play on the week­end.” No sooner had I said that than he would sprint to the other side, hav­ing changed po­si­tions. Then I would re­lax, ha, ha, ha. Steve Lekoe­lea would then come to my side, but I knew he was scared of be­ing tack­led.

Go on.

One time we were hav­ing break­fast. Lekoe­lea came late and the coach asked him, “Steve, why don’t you greet me?” He re­sponded, “Coach, I groot you!” Ha, ha, ha, the guys laughed so hard, yho. The late Gift Leremi was a good boy and I played with him on the left. He had his mo­ments and we used to call him ‘Sg­wa­manda’. If you saw him hold­ing the steer­ing wheel while driv­ing, it looked as if he was ready to take it out of its po­si­tion – that’s just how strong he was. Some­times you would be driv­ing with him in your car, and he would bring his CDs and play his mu­sic as if it was his car, ha, ha, ha. That boy was a char­ac­ter.

‘Tsotsi’ Num­ber One’, thanks for re­mind­ing us about the good old days.

Ngiyabonga nami (Thank you). I had a good ca­reer. The one per­son that re­ally gave me a tough time was Rowan Hen­dricks of Ajax Cape Town. When­ever we were trav­el­ling to Cape Town, the guys would tease me about it, ask­ing me, “Do you know Hen­dricks? He will make you run!” But one time they took him off in the first half and I was the one now teas­ing my team­mates...

Be­sithan­dana

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