23 June 2016 – Menzi Masuku believes they have what it takes to lift the COSAFA Castle Cup trophy when they face Botswana in the final of the tournament on Saturday, 25 June 2016.
The clash takes place at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Namibia.
Kickoff is at 18h00 South African time.
This was in the 2016 COSAFA Cup semi final which was played on Wednesday (22 June 2016).
SAFA Media spoke to him after the match.
Namhla Mphelo: Congratulations on the win
Menzi Masuku: Thanks, but it was a team effort, so gratitude also goes to my teammates, the technical team and the support staff – we win together and we lose together. In both matches we were a goal down but managed to work our way to victory. This shows a lot of character and determination that if we work hard anything is possible. It also indicates that we can win any game when we play to the best of our abilities.
NM: You came on as a substitute in both matches at the COSAFA Cup and made a huge impact…
MM: I am happy to have been able to deliver as expected. Credit should once again go to the technical team for having faith in my ability, which came through when needed. I am just honoured to be part of the Bafana Bafana squad and hope this will lead to more call-ups. But I can’t rest on my laurels, I need to work even harder.
NM: You scored your first Bafana Bafana brace in the match against Swaziland - how do you feel about those goals?
MM: It is always something special to represent my country. I am excited to have bagged my first first brace for Bafana Bafana and am very proud of the performance we displayed against Swaziland. We grew more in confidence as the game wore on, that is why we were able to convert our chances, moreso because we have been struggling a bit in front of goals. It was a kind of performance that showed that we are worthy of winning this tournament.
MM: We are facing a very strong team that has over the years always wanted not to lose to South Africa – so from the onset we have a very difficult match because of that, but we are focussed and determined to do well. We had two tough matches but managed to pull through – although many will look at the scoreline against Swaziland and think we had it easy, but it was not. But I believe we have now gathered some momentum and we will come out victorious. Lesotho and Swaziland are all in the past, the focus is on Botswana - we are just one match away from lifting this trophy – which will be the second medal for some of us in the SA u23 National Team following the win in Senegal, so that in itself is enough motivation to see us through. We have a very good group of players who also want to do well. I am confident we will return home with gold medals.
NM: What do you make of the COSAFA Cup tournament in general?
MM: I believe that the COSAFA Cup is very good for our region. And as our coaches have been saying, if you want to conquer the world start in your backyard – so this is a starting point for us. This tournament has produced a lot of stars over the years, and the good thing is that we are using it to prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The matches we have played so far have also assisted the technical team to see where we still need improvement as we get closer to the Olympics.
NM: Let us rewind time a little bit to the CAF u23 AFCON last year. You (together with Gift Motupa) joined the squad late as you were busy with CAF club duties for Pirates, but you still played a significant role in that tournament.
MM: Joining the squad late was never going to be an easy task, however, Gift and I knew the importance of the U23 AFCON. If you remember we had just lost in the final of the CAF Champions League with Orlando Pirates, so we were both a little disappointed with that. On our way to Senegal we spoke about how important it was to qualify for the Olympics. Thankfully it all ended on a positive note for South Africa. For me personally the ever-lasting memory would be scoring the goal against Zambia. It was an important goal for me because we had lost the opening match (against the hosts). The other goal that comes to mind is the 1-0 win over Senegal – the goal ensured that we played for the last spot in the Olympic Games. But all in all it was a great tournament.
NM: Looking forward to the Olympics?
MM: First of all I need to be selected for the final team that is going to Rio. But I am really looking forward to being part of the experience because the Olympic Games are the biggest sporting spectacle in the world – and for that reason I will work as hard as I can to ensure I book my plane ticket to Rio, and not take anything for granted. Being there would give me a chance to play perhaps some of the biggest matches of my career, and I would like to make it a point that South Africa leaves a mark at these Games. I believe that if we stay focused, work as a team and dream big, we can achieve the impossible.