JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates midfielder Thabo “Jomo” Rakhale is going through a barren patch in his football career at the moment.
Jomo, as he is affectionately known to his supporters, was a fan favourite at Pirates. Ex-players even went so far as saying that he should be given the 'retired' No 10 jersey at the club, made famous by Jomo Sono.
Things have since digressed for Rakhale. Before the end of 2017, he was told that he was going on loan to Chippa United and a few weeks after receiving the news, he crashed his car which landed him in hot water.
Rakhale has explained his bad fortunes as a test of character. He spoke with the media after making his debut at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi in an Absa Premiership clash.
“As a footballer you need to be prepared for such things,” said Rakhale. “We had players like Teko Modise, who went through some of the things I’m going through. Even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, they always get criticised in the media for certain reasons. It is a test of your character, how strong you are with such things. Yes, things have been written about me but I’m here to play football.
“Whatever I’ve been through, it is water under the bridge,” Rakhale said.
Rakhale struggled for game time under new Pirates mentor Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic in the first half of the season, who preferred Thabo 'Section 10' Qalinge and Luvuyo Memela.
“I wasn’t surprised. These kind of things happen in football.
Today you wake up and sleep knowing you are playing for a certain team and the next day there are headlines saying you are the first guy to go. The guys that I left there they are doing quite well. I’m not complaining and I’m not mourning. I’m here to play football. As long as I enjoy that then I will be happy. Football is not for the faint-hearted. You must be prepared for such things,” Rakhale explained.
Rakhale and Chippa boss Tebogo Moloi worked together at Pirates when Moloi was still serving as an assistant coach to Eric Tinkler.
“It feels great to be the part of Chippa United set up. I can safely say I’m happy to be here. The guys here play the kind of football I enjoy and they have welcomed me. So far I’m settling in quite nicely. It is a great feeling to be reuniting with coach 'Tebza'. He knows what I’m capable of.
He always pushes me, always makes sure that I perform to the best of my ability,” Rakhale elaborated.
Chippa commenced the new year on a high note beating AmaZulu 2-0 away from home. They are now sixth on the Absa Premiership log.
“When coach Tebza was at Pirates, I was consistent in my performances. He also promised to bring me back to that form that I use to show before. I’m happy to be at Chippa and I want to contribute to the team’s performances. They have been getting good results. For the chairman and the coach to call me to come here, I really don’t know how to explain that feeling. We are taking it one game at a time and we will see where this takes us,” said Rakhale.