JOHANNESBURG - The majority of Orlando Pirates supporters may categorise Thamsanqa Gabuza as an ordinary player but not the club’s boss, Irvin Khoza. It is Gabuza’s diligence, charismatic character and his humbleness that has earned him the admiration of the man known as the Iron Duke.
“Gabuza is a special player. He is a team player. He makes the team laugh with his jokes. Gabuza is hardworking and he loves the club. There’s something special about the boy and that’s why I’m on his side," Khoza said.
"He's like Senzo Meyiwa (former Pirates goal-minder who died in 2014). Gabuza will never give you attitude. He is a nice boy. Even if he is not in the 18-man team, you will find him at training, working hard as if he is the part of the matchday squad. That’s how passionate the boy is."
Gabuza astonished the the football fraternity when he walked off the pitch on Tuesday night when the Buccaneers dispatched Black Leopards in an Absa Premiership tussle at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. The Umnambithi born marksman orchestrated his side’s first goal, which was an own goal courtesy of Thivhavhudzi Ndou.
After the ball went in to the back of the net, Gabuza took off his jersey and threw it into the crowd and suggested to his own supporters that they must ask for him to be substituted. Gabuza then left the pitch and came back after half time, hobbling and with his knee strapped up.
The referee showed him two yellow cards for taking off his jersey and for leaving the field without his permission, meaning Pirates had to play more than half the game with only 10 men.
“We don’t condone his behaviour. As a role model he should be able to deal with criticism positively. Your temperament must be able to overcome all the challenges. You must concentrate on the game,” Khoza added.
"Sometimes you need to be patient. If I wasn’t patient I wouldn’t be in football still but I’m still in football. His attitude was unprofessional. It was an act of misconduct and it really tarnished the reputation and the image of the club. But he is very remorseful for his actions. Gabuza is a very humble person. He told me he was wrong but he's doing his best for the club."
Gabuza sets up a goal ⚽️— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 28, 2018
Gabuza takes off his shirt🚶🏿♂️
Gabuza walks off the field 🤔 pic.twitter.com/rnqF02JjPz
“I’m waiting for the report of the match commissioner. We also have to get the report of the psychologist because his attitude wasn’t normal. Sometimes taking quick decisions is not a solution. We all make mistakes.
"We have two weeks to deal with this matter. We have to make adjustments to find the solution. We have to see whether the solution is the psychologist or the striker’s coach," Khoza explained.
Gabuza joined Pirates in 2013 from Lamontville Golden Arrows. Over the years he has been on the receiving end of abuse from his own supporters for missed chances.
“It is very important to understand that for striker to score goals it also depends on your temperament, mixed emotions, anxiety and the energy. That can be influenced by your own supporters. There’s a difference between jeering and cheering. If people jeer at you, you end up losing your steps. You become destabilised. You end up losing your cool," Khoza continued.
"Gabuza is not a lazy player. He is the most performing player. He loves the club and he wants to give back. Gabuza was a top goalscorer under Shakes Mashaba for Bafana Bafana.”
Khoza feels that the negative criticism of Gabuza can also affect his personal life in future. He explained: “I understand that people have different expectations. Gabuza crossed the ball on Tuesday and we scored. It was the goal that contributed significantly in us winning the game. Our society is full of anger. We want to do things in a tone of violence.
"That’s can’t be right. Gabuza will leave football one day and become a serial killer because he feels rejected by the people that he loves and he thought they loved him. We will start complaining and says he is cursed. It starts with small things like these."
Gabuza will miss Pirates’ next two assignments against SuperSport United and Baroka FC.
“We need to be patient. Eric Cantona once kicked a supporter (when he was playing for Manchester United in 1995 against Crystal Palace). Three months before we won the CAF Champions League in 1995, I was told to get rid of Jerry Sikhosana. Fans were saying Jerry is fighting with referees, he is not passing the ball and has tantrums. I knew that Jerry was street wise. We needed his mentality. He was a strong person.
"If I listened I would have been insulted. Jerry won us the Champions League and he is still a hero even today. We can’t encourage negative mentality. There must be balance in support. “ Khoza concluded.