Thamsanqa Gabuza has managed to put personal tragedy aside to help Supersport United. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG 
The trauma of losing his son and keeping that information from his teammates until after SuperSport United won the MTN8 hasn’t had much of an effect on Thamsanqa Gabuza who helped Matsatsantsa a Pitori register another cup victory.

The menacing striker scored the winning penalty in SuperSport’s 3-2 win over Baroka FC in the shoot-out at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday after the match ended 1-1. Gabuza showed his strength and awareness to create a goal out of nothing for Bradley Grobler who found the back of the net in optional time to take the match to extra-time. SuperSport showed great composure to bounce back after missing their first two penalties to go on and eliminate the holders of the Telkom Knockout, moving a step closer completing a double before the end of the year.

“It was a true reflection of our mental strength because it was a very difficult game,” SuperSport’s coach Kaitano Tembo said. “It wasn’t going to be an easy game, playing against the champions. We started very well. We had a very good phase in the first 20 minutes. We created few chances, but after that we became a little bit flat, there were a lot of misplaced passes and we were caught on transition, giving the ball away in dangerous areas.

“But at the same time, when they went ahead - we controlled the game more and we started to believe in ourselves. Scoring at the death shows how tough we are mentally. We missed the first two penalties and we didn’t drop our heads. In a cup game, the most important thing is going through the next round.”

Gabuza was instrumental in that victory, showing great resolve to bounce back from tragedy and lead SuperSport to glory once again. Gabuza lost his son leading up to the MTN8 final against Highlands Park. He didn’t tell anyone in the team until after they won the trophy, arguing that he didn’t want to distract his teammates leading up to such a crucial encounter. Gabuza had a blinder in the final, winning the Man of the Match award and playing an instrumental role in Tembo winning his first trophy as head coach.

“Gabuza is a very strong person, both mentally and physically,” Tembo said. “He dealt with it his own way. We gave him a little bit of time to be with his family. He came back, with a clear mind and also refreshed.

"You could see with his performance today, he is one person who is an honest player. He will give you an honest performance. That’s what you want, he doesn’t cheat. He will make mistakes, but what he gives you is a lot.”

Tembo and SuperSport have to make a tough decision on whether they allow Teboho Mokoena, Sipho Mbule and Jamie Webber to travel with the Under-23 national team next month to represent South Africa in the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) which serves as qualifiers for the Olympics. The top three teams will represent the continent in Japan next year. But the competition falls outside the Fifa calendar, which means club aren’t obliged to release players.

Bonginkosi Ndadane