JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana defender Motjeka Madisha is thrilled that the backing of Mamelodi Sundowns’ coaching personnel helped him to bounce back after an underwhelming start with the Brazilians in the ‘bio bubble’ in August.
After an enterprising season before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Madisha appeared to be a shadow of himself in the early outings of the restart in the bubble.
His disappointing performance was mainly in their 3-2 win over Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
But as the season progressed, with match fitness picking up, Madisha regained his confidence, thanks to the support from the technical team of then coach Pitso Mosimane.
For their efforts, Madisha and company were richly rewarded as they bagged the championship and Nedbank Cup.
These two trophies in the bubble ensured that Sundowns completed a domestic treble and record tenth title. But for Madisha, his hard work and ability to dust himself off didn’t go unnoticed as he was nominated for Defender of the Season award and received a call-up for Bafana’s international friendlies against Namibia and Zambia respectively.
However, the 25-year-old was beaten to the award by Rushine De Reuck of Maritzburg United, while he featured for Bafana when they drew 1-1 and lost 2-1 to Namibia and Chipolopolo in Rustenburg respectively.
“It was a difficult period at the time, where many players were criticising me and calling me names,” Madisha said.
“But then, I felt honoured to have such coaches, Pitso, Manqoba (Mngqithi) and Rhulani (Mokwena) because they told me to not respond or say anything.”
He added: “They told me to keep working hard. And prove them wrong on the field – and let them talk alone. And that’s what I did. I managed to bounce back and I helped the team to win trophies.
“I am happy that I bounced back after all the criticism.”
Taking the criticism on the chin has seen Madisha back for a second spell at Bafana in a space of four weeks.
This time, the South Africans are in Durban where they’ll clash with Sao Tome and Principe in the third round of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Coach Molefi Ntseki’s men will host the islanders at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday night (9pm kickoff).
On Monday, Bafana will play Sao Tome away, but the return leg will be hosted by South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Stadium – after CAF and Safa agreed for both back-to-back matches to be played in South Africa, amid the intense travelling restrictions of the pandemic.
Maximum points from either match should see Bafana take a step closer to the continental showpiece in Cameroon, especially with their last two matches in Group C, where they are currently second, against leaders Ghana and third-placed Sudan.
And after numerous withdrawals from the initial squad, due to injuries and positive Covid-19 cases, and on the back of the underwhelming results against Namibia and Zambia, this will be the time for Bafana to bounce back.
“I think in the previous game, we had a wake-up call.
“So, we need to improve where we need to.
“We’ll work on certain things as players and as a team, we’ll need to improve on how we’ll approach and finish the games,” Madisha concluded.