Sono never doubted that Masinga was going to make it big. He scouted his talent back in 1990.
“To be honest, when a certain organ in your body fails and then it is signs that you won’t stay long. May his soul rest in peace. I’ve just lost one of my sons. I lost Sizwe Motaung and then it was Thomas Madigage and now it is Phil.
“I wasn’t just a coach to these boys but I was a father, friend, manager and the coach. Other coaches are worried about results and that’s how they see it.
“If you don’t produce they get rid of you. I’m very proud to have worked with them. These are legends and nobody can take that away from them,” Sono said.
Masinga made 58 appearances for Bafana while notching up 18 strikes.
He won the Africa Cup of Nations with Bafana in 1996 under the tenure of Clive Barker.
He will always be remembered for the goal that he scored against Congo. His strike saw Bafana qualifying for their maiden Fifa World Cup in 1998 in France.
“People will always remember Phil for the goal he scored against Congo but I will always remember Phil for the goal that he scored for Cosmos against Orlando Pirates coming off the bench.
“He was very skinny. When I sent him to warm up, Orlando Pirates fans were laughing at him. He was so small and young at that time. He came on and scored. He ran straight to me and I asked him why didn’t you go and celebrate in front of those Pirates fans and he said, ‘people back home in Klerksdorp were going to have a go at me’. When he came on, I told him to go and make those people eat humble pie and he did just that,” he added.
Masinga also made his name in Europe playing for sides like Leeds United (in England), St. Gallen (Switzerland), Salernitana and Bari (both Italy) and Al-Wahda (United Arab Emirates). He also had a successful stint with Mamelodi Sundowns.
“Phil had a big match temperament. He was not easily shaken. Even when they booed him, he still delivered for the country. At that time it was players from Jomo Cosmos that were getting booed. It was Masinga and the likes of Augustine Makalakalane. It was political because I was outspoken. When they left Cosmos, they were never booed. Even Nkosinathi Nhleko got booed. It was my players but Masinga was never shaken by that. He was strong mentally, “ Sono explained.
Masinga died as an active member of South African Masters and Legends.
“I think it will take us time to produce strikers like Phil, Shaun Bartlett and Benni McCarthy. What a player.
“He was always hungry to score goals. His presence was very intimidating,” Sono elaborated.
Masinga is fifth on the list of all-time leading goal scorers behind McCarthy, Bartlett and Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker (who are tied on 23 goals).
“This is a great loss to South African football.
“I shared a lot with Phil. God is always there to help those that are hurt. He will strengthen his family. It is so unfortunate to lose him at the very young age. He was my son,” Sono concluded.@Tshiliboy