JOHANNESBURG – Rodney Ramagalela is confident that Polokwane City can end a seven-year wait on Sunday to give Limpopo something they haven’t had in almost a decade.
The province hasn’t had a team in a cup final in the Premier Soccer League era since Black Leopards reached that stage in the 2011 Nedbank Cup.
Ramagalela was still with Lidoda Duvha, who were in the First Division then, while Baroka FC, who Leopards beat in the semi-finals, were an amateur team.
Rise and Shine didn’t exist then as they bought Bay United’s status in 2012.
A lot has changed in the region since, with Bakgaga at the summit of the Absa Premiership, while Polokwane are 90 minutes away from appearing in their first final in the club’s history.
But Rise and Shine have to get past a rejuvenated Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium (3.30pm kickoff) in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout to do that.
“If you look at our team, we have many youngsters who have just been promoted from the MultiChoice Diski Challenge team,” Ramagalela said.
“We are a team that’s on a rise and still building. It would be good for the team to go all the way to the final, because the last time a team from Limpopo played in a final or a semi-final was when I was still playing for Black Leopards.
“It’s about time that we did that again as Polokwane City. We are a team that’s growing. We want to make history here, and we are on the right track to do that.
“We finished in the top eight for the first time in the club’s history last season, and now we are in the semi-finals for the first time. That’s progress. We have players who can take us to the final.”
Ramagalela is one of those players.
The country’s leading goal-scorer with six goals this season is a freak of nature. He powers his way through opponents with his strength if his lightning-fast speed doesn’t do the trick.
Despite having scored more goals than any other player in this campaign, Ramagalela has become a selfless man, playing a supporting role to Rendani Ndou, who scored a brace against Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals at Orlando Stadium.
“Rama G” has found the form that saw him snapped up by Mamelodi Sundowns in 2013.
His stay with the Brazilians was uneventful as he was unable to produce the goods like he did at Leopards.
A loan stint at Golden Arrows in 2015 was followed by a permanent move to Rise and Shine last year.
The 28-year-old brought the team’s nickname to life in his return home, rising above his previous shortcomings and shining with Polokwane to a point that he was named Player of the Month for October.
He also scooped the Goal of the Month for his audacious shot in August against Sundowns.
“You can say that I play my best football when I am home, but I think the difference is being injury-free,” Ramagalela said.
“If you check the time I was away at Sundowns, I was struggling with injuries. Now that I am injury-free, I am able to play each and every game.
"That’s why you are seeing the best of me.
“But also when you get older, you become smarter because of what you have learnt. When you are young, you only use your power, but with age, you start thinking and using your brain more.
“Thinking is what’s making things easier for me now.”