Thabo banks on glory


The other 21 men may huff and puff to win over the ball’s affection, and sheit may flirt with one or two, but sheit remains loyal to Rakhale, who knows how to handle her rightit.

But when the Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard is lacking in confidence, he handles the ball with a touch rougher than a carpenter. The ball reacts by shunning him and looks for suitors with a gentler touch.

For the better part of this year, Rakhale has been working on winning back herits affection.He has managed to do that in the Nedbank Cup, starting against Kaizer Chiefs when he was at his charming best, just like he was against Jomo Cosmos in the last 16, removing the memories of the slump Pirates were in.

”It started with us losing the final (of the CAF Confederation Cup) and at that moment we were not doing well in the league,” Rakhale said.”If something goes wrong in your life, there must be something going right so you are able to pick yourself up and try to rectify the things that aren’t going right, motivated by those that are going well.

”But for us things were going badly on all fronts. We lost the final and in the league we were doing badly.”It was a very difficult situation for us. It tested the players’ mental strength.

”I asked myself, ‘why am I here? What brought me here and what is it that I want to achieve as a player?’”I knew I wanted to make a name for myself and help the team succeed, so that’s how I picked myself up.”Most of us have the same mentality. That’s why we sat down as players and said we must give it our all in the remaining games and see what happens.

”Things turned out positively and we started to win games and play our normal football to make our fans happy.”What would make the Ghost continue to be happy is for the Buccaneers to come out on top against Mamelodi Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals today (kick-off 8.15pm).

The Brazilians have dominated the Buccaneers this season, beating them twice in the league, and as if that wasn’t tough enough, Pirates had to watch Sundowns fly the flag on the continent, where they’re the last South African team standing.In 2013 and last year, it was Pirates, with Rakhale and Co finding themselves in the Confederation Cup.

He went from just a ball juggler to a skilful player who knew when and where to take on defenders with his skills and improved his defensive work.It’s a competition that has a special place in his heart because of how much he grew in it.For Pirates to return there, they have not only to beat Sundowns but go all the way and lift the Nedbank Cup.

That would make the Ghost the Happy People.”What made me realise that things will turn out right is the attitude we showed after stepping out of a meeting in December,” Rakhale said.

”The first training sessions after that was fiery. Everyone wanted to play and give his best. We started to win games which helped us grow in confidence.”The slump we were in also affected me because I play for the team firstly; it’s not just about me doing tricks. When we’re not doing well, I struggle. That’s why I am happy we turned things around.”I want us to win this cup because personally I haven’t won anything since I started playing professional football.”

The Star

Original source: Thabo banks on glory