JOHANNESBURG – An honest Vincent Pule places the blame solely on himself regarding why he hasn’t played as many games as he should have at Bidvest Wits with the talent he has.
The 25-year-old midfielder has made 27 appearances for the Clever Boys in the four years he has been at the club.
He is set to make his 28th this afternoon in their clash with Cape Town City in the second leg of the MTN8 semi-final, judging by how he has started the season. But a good start hasn’t been the problem for Pule.
He starts well and then fizzles out without consistently showing his best.
“We have a lot of quality players at Wits,” Pule said. “When the season starts, all of us want to play. We work hard to achieve that. I also do that.
“But the one thing that hasn’t worked for me is that when the team is doing well, I tend to relax and that’s what has been killing me. I am just like, ah the team is doing well so that means I won’t get a chance.”
Pule continued: “I figure they are fine without me, which is a negative mind-set. I have to change that and think that they can be even better with me in the team.
“I have to work harder for the coach to give me a chance to break into a strong team. I also need to be stronger mentally, believe in myself more and not give up easily.
“I am competing with the best so I have to work harder. I have adopted the mind-set of going into each game and each training to give my all, like it was my last game. If I have the right state of mind, I can achieve anything.”
Pule hasn’t retreated to his shell, four games into the season, as the Clever Boys have had an indifferent start. They have picked up just one point in the league after two games and their chances to retain the MTN8 took a blow in Cape Town last month in the 1-0 first-leg loss to the Citizens.
This afternoon they have to get past a team that’s beaten them twice so far, to reach the final.
As much as the club started on a poor note, going 2-0 down to Golden Arrows in the opening round of the MTN8 before bouncing back to win on penalties – Pule has shone for the Clever Boys.
He received a standing ovation when he was substituted against Abafana Bes’thende.
“It was unbelievable,” Pule said. “It had never happened to me before. It was something great. I appreciated it. It proved to me that I have the talent.
“The problem is that if the mind switches off, the body can’t do anything. But if you have the right state of mind, you can do wonders. The players have been pushing me to believe in myself and work hard.”
That hard work will come in handy in the Clever Boys’ bid to retain the two trophies they won last season.
Those two trophies hold a special place in Pule’s heart. The MTN8 was the first trophy he won in his professional career and the Premiership was his first league title.
“Some people retire without winning the league, I did that at 25,” Pule said.
“Imagine what I will have when I am 30 if I just push myself.”