Masinga ‘al­most quit Bafana’

Khu­malo speaks on Phil’s boo­ing

Sowetan - - Sport - By Nkareng Mat­she

A de­spon­dent Phil Masinga once at­tempted to walk away from Bafana Bafana fol­low­ing a tor­rent of abuse he suf­fered from in­tol­er­ant fans, his friend Doc­tor Khu­malo said yes­ter­day, as South Africa mourned one of its great­est foot­ball he­roes.

“The boo­ing af­fected him greatly,” said Khu­malo, who played along­side Masinga in the na­tional team for nearly a decade. “He nearly quit in­ter­na­tional foot­ball. He was so down and de­pressed each time he was booed. One day we had to rally around him and sup­port him – ev­ery­one in the camp from [team doc­tor] Vic­tor Ra­math­e­sele, to coach Clive [Barker]. He felt so unloved and thought it would be best if he stopped play­ing for Bafana. But we told him we val­ued him and urged him to con­tinue.”

In their hey­day, Khu­malo and Masinga de­vel­oped such a telepa­thy that most of the lat­ter’s 18 in­ter­na­tional goals came as a re­sult of a break­through pass from the for­mer. “We had a great un­der­stand­ing,” Khu­malo said of the man who scored four goals as Bafana booked their ticket to World Cup 1998 in France. “He ac­tu­ally made me look good, be­cause he was a good fin­isher. He hated los­ing. I re­mem­ber in the qual­i­fiers for the 1998 World Cup, we lost to Congo [away] but the next match against Zaire [now DR Congo] in Lome, we both scored and won 2-1.

“He had so much con­fi­dence in me that even when he was play­ing for big teams like Leeds and Bari, he told me he could do with my as­sists there,” Khu­malo said. Khu­malo and Masinga first met in the early 1990s in Soweto, af­ter the lat­ter had joined Jomo Cos­mos colts. “He had just come in from the North West and Bra J [Jomo Sono] used to send his play­ers to a high school in Orlando West. That’s where I first met Phil.

“But we be­came closer in the na­tional team.”

The cur­rent state of Bafana, where they are strug­gling to qual­ify for in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments, hurt him deeply. “Fol­low­ing our draw with Libya [last year] he called me early on a Sun­day morn­ing, say­ing surely as leg­ends we must do some­thing. It hurt him that our na­tional play­ers were sim­ply not giv­ing their all. He said he was sad that the team lacked spark and called for us to in­ter­vene.”

/GETTY IMAGES / HENRI SZWARC

Bafana Bafana striker Phile­mon Masinga is chal­lenged by a France de­fender Mar­cel De­sailly dur­ing their 1998 World Cup clash in France.

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