My Absa Cup Joy and Despair

Ditheko Mototo Absa Cup Diary Part 2

Saturday: 06h00 – 09h00

I am not sure what time I actually woke up on Saturday but I think I was awake early and lay in bed looking at the ceiling thinking of what was to come in the rest of the day. I was up before my roommate David Radebe, so I got to do all the necessities early in the morning as I shower and go to the window and look out towards the ocean I see the coach returning from his early morning jog. By the time I get to the dining room for breakfast the coach is already seated – boy is he fast, as the rest of the team begin to come in the noise level rises. Breakfast is a long affair with the guys taking their time and the conversation revolves around many things except today’s game.

09h00 – 12h00

After breakfast time seems to drag. I go up to my room to get a few things and then return for the team talk – during which the coach announces the starting eleven. We go through various things in the team talk such as tactics and the coaching staff also hand out individual instructions to different players. For myself and room mate David Radebe it is a happy journey back as we learn that we are both in the starting line up for the final and I am pleased for both of us. A couple of minutes after the team talk, we are told that captain Cyril Nzama wants us all to come to his room for an urgent unscheduled meeting. When we get to his room a little down the corridor from us there is uncertainty in the room as to why we have been called there.

Cyril then reads to us a message of good luck he received from former President Nelson Mandela who called him a few minutes earlier. The guys are lifted by Madiba’s message of goodwill. For me knowing that such a noble man can take time out to wish me luck is all the motivation I needed as I head for the pre-match meal and a short nap thereafter.

13h00 – 15h15

We head off to the stadium just after one o’ clock, with sirens bellowing as we move through Saturday afternoon traffic and head towards the ABSA Stadium. As we near the stadium I begin to get anxious for the first time all day. As we get through the throngs of supporters outside the ground I begin to feel calmer as it becomes clearer that Chiefs supporters are more than their Pirates counterparts. Before the game Bobby Motaung goes over to check the Pirates players cards and then Phil Setshedi comes over to see our playing cards. We then head for the warm-up and then return to the changing room and head out for the game.

15h15 – 17h15

As the rain begins to fall and it makes the pitch heavier and it becomes more and more difficult to keep one’s balance. Pirates start off stronger and our defence is in disarray in the first half. My first major final and I think I am coping okay – things get better in the second half as David Obua is given a more attacking role we begin to play much better.

As the game nears its end all I see is Louis Agyemang being wrestled by Collins Chabalala and Louis falls like a ton of bricks. As he hits the deck the referee shows the Pirates man the red card. Louis was on his way to score and we, with time almost up, that – would have been the perfect way to end the game. As extra time begins I receive a yellow card and then in the second half of extra time pull of my opponent’s jersey and pick up a second card and have to leave the field.

As I leave the field I only feel sad as I begin to feel that I let my team down and if things go down to penalties I won’t be there to be part off it. I head off for the change room where I drop my head into my hands. After a shower I get to be back in time for penalties where everything goes our way. At the end of it all when I received my winners medal all I could say was that I really left a mark on my first final and will remeber it forever.