JOHANNESBURG - Supersport United would have felt Evans Rusike was an underwhelming January signing given the money spent, rather hastily, to lure him away from Maritzburg United following Jeremy Brockie’s departure.
The Zimbabwean packed his bags and headed for Tshwane, but appeared to have forgotten his scoring boots back in the Midlands - he’d scored a single goal in 12 matches for his new club after he had managed eight as a winger-cum-striker in 19 games for his old team.
“I think I have had a good pre-season,” Rusike said in his post-match reaction after SuperSport beat Bidvest Wits 1-0 on Saturday night thanks to his solitary strike. “This all gives me confidence going into the next game (an MTN8 first leg semifinal at home against Kaizer Chiefs). I got to know my teammates better during pre-season, which is helpful in any team. It is different when you come in during the window period and everyone is expecting results.”
Those results actually didn’t come until the last day of the season as Matsatsantsa escaped the threat of relegation with a laboured 1-0 performance against Baroka FC. Only boardroom points, due to the Ajax and Tendai Ndoro saga, helped SuperSport get into the top eight and have a chance to defend their MTN8 trophy.
Rusike might have felt responsible for not hitting the ground running with crucial goals, which, by the way, Brockie too was battling to get before joining crosstown rivals Mamelodi Sundowns. “I arrived when the team was struggling a bit,” said Rusike, who has now scored three goals in four games from all competitions early on this season.
“But you just have to work your socks off to get the results. It’s nice now to finally be scoring. My job is to score. If you are getting goals in every game you just thank God for that. This time we are in this (race) to go all the way.”
SuperSport began the previous campaign in similar fashion only to be drowned by their congested schedule, which was juggling the domestic league with the CAF Confederation Cup. TP Mazembe beat them over two legs to win that trophy in November last year, and the wheels catastrophically came off and coach Eric Tinkler resigned two months after Rusike had arrived. The big difference now is the absence of travelling all over the continent.
“We have a new coach now and what happened last season happened last season. For us, everything is new. So we are hoping for new things also in this new season,” said Rusike, who is thriving in his partnership with James Keene, also a new arrival from Wits.
“You have to combine when playing with a guy like James. He works his socks off to get the defenders tired. I am just there to sneak in and finish. I am grateful for him because he makes things easier.”
Hopefully the newness of it all will help Rusike as he shoots for the Golden Boot.