JOHANNESBURG – Gift Motupa rejects the idea that he was a misfit at Orlando Pirates having joined the club in 2015 but loaned back to Baroka FC after a far from impressive debut season with the Buccaneers.
Now at Bidvest Wits and eager to win his first piece of silverware as the Clever Boys coincidentally face Baroka in Sunday's Telkom Knockout semi-final, Motupa insists his challenges at Pirates only made him stronger.
However, his current coach Gavin Hunt put a different twist on the striker's past, saying he still looks like he is carrying a lot of “baggage”.
“I would have loved to (win trophies at Pirates) but I quickly accepted my situation,” said Motupa, who was mostly a fringe player while with the Soweto outfit. “And I have grown from it; from that time to now I am becoming a better player.
“I appreciate the time I spent at Pirates and Baroka, but I have to shift my mentality to Wits now and try and win trophies,” he explained.
With 10 goals in 18 starts for Bakgaga last season, Motupa revived the kind of form that has earned him 10 Bafana Bafana caps as well as his inclusion in the Olympic football team two years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
Coach Hunt said he’s been encouraging the man they signed after hijacking his imminent move to Chippa United in July this year.
"For me he’s got a little bit of baggage,” the Wits coach said. “By that I mean how to play the game and what’s required. In terms of his ability, I don’t see anybody in South Africa that can shoot like him and he’s got game intelligence that needs to be sorted out.
“But it is taking time to knock certain things out of him.”
Motupa has said that Hunt asked him to aim for at least eight goals this season, and the coach added that he would pay special attention to the 24-year-old forward.
“When you work at big clubs there is very little individual coaching going on - they bring players in and they have got to hit the ground running,” Hunt said. “If you don’t make it you are out, especially as a striker. Players like him need to be coached individually a little bit more. We can do that here.
“No disrespect to Pirates, but when they bring in a striker he must score goals (immediately) and that usually means they won’t do a lot of work on him.
“I have said to him (Motupa) that he’s got to be in the national team,” Hunt concluded.