Gabuza dismisses threat

TOUGH SESSION:  Itumeleng Khune during the South African  team training session at the University of Johannesburg yesterday Picture: GALLO IMAGES -
TOUGH SESSION: Itumeleng Khune during the South African team training session at the University of Johannesburg yesterday Picture: GALLO IMAGES –

On-form striker welcomes competition

JUST after Thamsanqa Gabuza had finally discovered his new-found form with goals for club and country, Orlando Pirates recruited Tendai Ndoro, a striker likely to be a direct threat to his future with the Buccaneers.

This has quickly cast doubt on whether Gabuza, who is travelling with Bafana Bafana to Mauritius for the second leg of their African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier on Sunday, can maintain consistency in a side that’s never lacked a proven goal scorer on standby.

Kermit Erasmus, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Lennox Bacela and even out-of-favour Helder Pelembe are all tied to contracts at Pirates.

“We have to welcome him [Ndoro] with open arms,” Gabuza said yesterday about his new teammate, who was signed from Mpumalanga Black Aces last week.

“He also needs a chance to settle and prove himself to the fans and the technical team. The competition at the club has always been tough because Pirates have always gone after quality strikers.

“I’ve my set my personal targets and I will go after them regardless.”

It is only recently that Gabuza rose to the occasion when Buccaneers coach Eric Tinkler gave him a run in the Caf Confederations Cup, with the striker rewarding his mentor with three goals in two matches before his surprise – and late – inclusion in Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia in Durban.

His club teammate Erasmus had rejected a call-up, opening the door for Gabuza.

“I don’t think anything changed in terms of how I play. I just kept pushing myself because I believe if you are patient enough and work hard, you will get your just reward.

“And I look forward to playing against Zamalek [in the Confederations Cup on July 11],” Gabuza said. He again silenced his critics with two goals from the national team’s three games last month.

He has grown in confidence and is expected to again lead the line for coach Shakes Mashaba’s men in Mauritius at the Stade Anjalay on Sunday afternoon, with Bafana looking to add to their 3-0 advantage from the first leg.

“Every player wants to be here because representing the national team is something to be proud of. I always see players who put in a good shift to make it to the Bafana, but don’t get that opportunity. So, I plan to take my chance,” Gabuza said.

Meanwhile, striker Tokelo Rantie is likely to escape punishment for failing to turn up for Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia earlier this month.

Rantie, who was called up to the crucial opening qualifier for Gabon 2017 on June 13 at Moses Mabhida Stadium, was on honeymoon at the time. He married fiancee Gigi Pule on June 6.

The penetrative striker’s presence was missed as South Africa were unable to score and were held to a 0-0 draw.

Safa communications head Dominic Chimhavi said Mashaba had eventually managed to contact the AFC Bournemouth striker, and the issue was resolved.

Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble said the breakdown in communication that led to Bafana not being aware Rantie intended to go on honeymoon rather than play for South Africa was not Mashaba’s fault.

“It’s not a matter for the coach to know what a player’s doing. He was right to select the player. It is for the team manager [Barney Kujane] and anyone else involved in the follow-up process to make sure players are available or not,” Mumble said.

“If a player does have a valid personal commitment elsewhere it really should be his responsibility to communicate back and say, ‘Can you excuse me for this?’.”

-Mazola Molefe

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