Washington Arubi relives Nedbank Cup heroics against Mamelodi Sundowns
Pretoria - The heroics of Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) goalkeeper Washington Arubi not only elbowed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns out of the coveted Nedbank Cup, but earned the shot-stopper glowing praise from the adversary - Brazilians co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi.
In post-match analysis, Mngqithi hailed Arubi as “one of the best goalkeepers in the country”, adding that the credit for the TTM victory should be directed at the Zimbabwean international. The Limpopo underdogs shocked Mamelodi Sundowns 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria on Sunday, in what has been dubbed the biggest upset in the competition.
Newspapers in South Africa and in Zimbabwe have given rave reviews of Arubi’s performance, with the State media in Harare highlighting that the goal-minder had a splendind day in office “on a special day for his country” as Zimbabwe on Sunday marked 41 years of independence from British colonial rule. Not to be outdone, social media users have splashed Arubi’s images and heaped praises on the former Dynamos keeper.
On Twitter, @thamagane_m wrote: “Washington Arubi for keeping TTM in the game and eventually win it for the team. The power of having a good goalkeeper!”
@Sifiso_Gumede reacted: “Washington Arubi, give that man a Bells. Solid performance from the TTM team, they came with a game plan and executed it to perfection.”
@MpolokengMohafa kept it brief: “Washington Arubi I love you”.
Another Twitter user @mbuli_siya posted: “Washington Arubi for president.”
Speaking to African News Agency (ANA), Arubi said the countless saves he made against Sundowns, particularly the superb acrobatic effort he pulled off to block Hlompho Kekana’s spot-kick during the penalty shoot-out were no fluke.
“Well, as you know Hlompo is a great quality player who you definitely have to watch his movements and timing, especially when we do our video analysis. So I knew he was going to unleash a thunderbolt as most of the penalties he takes he makes sure he puts power. Mentally, I was ready for him and after the save I had the gut feeling that we are through to the final,” Arubi said.
The former Zimbabwe Soccer Star of the Year, however, rushed to emphasise that he remains focused on his game, and does not allow the hype and admirations to get into his head.
“I am happy to be receiving rave reviews, thanks to hard work but definitely that is not something that has made me have a big ego. I still want to keep working hard so that I help the team. The Sundowns match is gone now and it's time to focus on the upcoming matches which are very important for me and the team to finish the season in a respectable position and also probably, God permitting, represent the team in Africa next season,” said the 35-year-old from his Limpopo base.
He however said the post-match commendation from Mngqithi was an “overwhelming” career highlight, considering the hard-fought high stakes match the two sides had played at Loftus.
“Honestly speaking, having a great coach and a legend of the game in coach Manqoba Mngqithi appreciating my efforts was really overwhelming. It is one of those best moments in [my] carrier. It’s very rare to be acknowledged by an opposition coach who has a team which is full of quality players, but him seeing something good in me made me emotional,” said the tough goalkeeper.
“It has actually motivated me to keep working hard. I am really at loss of words on how I can describe that feeling I'm so grateful to him.”
Opening up about his personal life, Arubi described himself as “a humble and God fearing person”.
“I am a devoted Christian. I come from a humble background. I was born and bred in Mutare and I am proud to have represented my country from the Under-20s to the senior national team. I have played for Zimbabwe's two biggest teams Highlanders FC and Dynamos FC and I am also proud to be the third goalkeeper in the history of Zimbabwean football to win the Soccer Star of the Year accolade in 2011,” said Arubi.
Despite his major exploits in South Africa, Arubi said he prefers a fairly private life, often travelling to Zimbabwe every off season to spend time with his mother.
“I am a low key person who does not drink or take anything any drug. My addiction is the gym and watching more games and reading biographies of other former greats as I find it inspiring on how they mastered the game. That is why at my age, I still feel I can continue to work extra hard and keeping in shape,” he said.
“I still have some seasons left in me. As you know, we goalkeepers can play until 40 - God and hard work permitting.”
The soccer star expressed gratitude to South Africans - from teammates, football fans, journalists and general community members who “have been have been so kind and welcoming to me” in the country he now calls his second home.
African News Agency (ANA)