JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns slayer, Rodney Ramagalela, knew he was going to score against his former team. But the number of goals he scored on Tuesday at Loftus Versfeld surprised him.
The 28-year-old forward inspired Polokwane City to a 2-1 win over the African champions with a brace to walk away with the Man of the Match award and remind those who might have forgotten what he can offer.
“I had nothing to prove to Sundowns,” Ramagalela said. “This was part of fulfilling our mission to finish in the top eight for a second successive season. There was nothing to prove because they already know what I can do.
"It was nice to score against them. I didn’t expect that it would be two goals, at least one. I knew that I would score because I studied their defence. They are very slow and over-confident.”
Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane scoffed at that comment from the striker he deemed surplus to requirements after Ramagalela failed to find the back of the net regularly in the three years he spent with the Brazilians.
“It’s always good (to talk) after you are the hero and scored two goals,” Mosimane said. “It’s okay. Leave Rama G and let him have fun. He should have targeted (defenders) when he was here with us But he had a brilliant game, take nothing away from that.”
Ramagalela refused to be drawn into a war of words with Mosimane, who insisted that Sundowns’ defenders aren’t slow.
“I can’t comment on that one,” Ramagalela said. “What I know is that I am quicker than them. So, to me they are slow.”
This wasn’t arrogance speaking, just a man assured of his talent in a career littered with doubts regarding whether he has what it takes to compete with the big boys. Ramagalela was a force at Black Leopards, like he is with Rise and Shine. The reason? He is a big fish in a small pond. As a small fish in an ocean, Ramagalela struggled to keep up with the sharks at Sundowns, which saw him loaned to Golden Arrows two years ago, before he was released last year.
The former national Under-23 player is an unorthodox striker. He isn’t a technically gifted player. But what he lacks in technique, he makes up with speed, powerful shot-taking and a high work-rate. He ran the Brazilians’ defence ragged and had a field day against Soumahoro Bangaly. But the problem with Ramagalela is that he doesn’t display such performances consistently, which is why Sundowns decided to let him go.
He regrouped in his home province and seems to be enjoying his football once again.
“You know that Rama G is one guy who works hard,” Ramagalela said. "When you work hard, you will be repaid at the end. I didn’t relax when I joined Polokwane City after leaving Sundowns - coming with the mentality that I was coming from a big team.
"I told myself that I must fight for my position and show people that all I did before wasn’t a fluke. The rejection didn’t kill me because I never doubted my talent.”