JOHANNESBURG – Aubrey Modiba spoke in a hushed tone, perhaps self-conscious of how absurd it might sound to hear a player from a team in a slump saying that he is getting more confident.
The SuperSport United utility player has been a shining light in what has been a dark period for the club, picking up just two wins in 13 matches, which forced even their harmless fans to voice their displeasure.
The 22-year-old has missed just one Absa Premiership match this season.
He has been dishing out consistent performances whether at left-back or in a more advanced role in midfield.
With Richard Boateng adapting to life in South Africa and Matsatsantsa a Pitori, Modiba is now given more freedom to go forward with the Ghanaian playing in defence.
That freedom has allowed Modiba to feature more on the scorer’s sheet, to a point that he is SuperSport’s leading goalscorer in the current squad with his six goals - while Jeremy Brockie scored eight times before joining Mamelodi Sundowns.
“The attitude that I have plays a big role in how I adapt to both positions.” Modiba said.
“Wherever I play, I don’t complain. I just make sure that I put 100% for the team because I like winning, creating chances for my teammates and scoring.
“I like helping the team as much as I can. I think that I have been good wherever I have played. I make sure that I switch my mind on to focus on whichever position I am fielded in that day.
“If the coach tells me to play left back today, I need to think about it and psych myself up for that so that I can deliver for the team.
“Playing as an attacking player has worked for me. I have been creating more chances and I am scoring more. Even the confidence is coming in terms of how I perform in front of goals, even though I should have done better in other games.”
A more confident Modiba has attracted the interest of Turkish side Besiktas, who have been monitoring him.
Joining the Turkish side and playing Uefa Champions League football would be a massive turnaround for a player who was on the verge of quitting the beautiful game as it didn’t look like he would get his big break.
With his time at the School of Excellence almost up, Modiba threw the last dice by going to the 2014 Nedbank Cup Ke Yona team search.
He made the cut, got signed by Mpumalanga Black Aces and represented his country in the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Last year he played against the Ke Yona team as a Nedbank Cup champion with SuperSport.
Matsatsantsa would love such a remarkable turn-around from their troubles, starting in their clash with AmaZulu at Lucas Moripe Stadium tomorrow.
“Nothing has changed from the team we were that was doing well,” Modiba said. “It’s just that the games are coming in thick and fast. We need to adjust and rest.
“Before the MTN8 we had a fairly reasonable schedule, but right now we are playing a lot of games. It’s been difficult for us to cope with that workload. We don’t have many players in the team and the schedule is taking a toll on us.
“I am not trying to make excuses, but it’s just a fact that has played a role in us finding ourselves in this position.
“We haven’t had much rest and there isn’t much time for the coach (Eric Tinkler) to prepare, which isn’t good because he is still in his first season.
“We find ourselves having a rest day after a game, train the following day and after that it’s another match. That has put pressure on us because we don’t even have much time to prepare.”
The club’s bad patch has put a lot of pressure on Tinkler, who took over a team that looked like it could challenge for the league, but has spent the better part of this campaign languishing at the bottom half of the log.
A handful of SuperSport’s fans called for his axing after the 4-1 loss to Bidvest Wits on Saturday amidst rumours that he has “lost” the change room.
“We believe in the coach,” Modiba said. “He is a winner, a motivator and he plans very well. Our downfall is not converting the chances that we create.
“We will bounce back.”