JOHANNESBURG – On Sunday Thamsanqa Gabuza was reluctant to address the media about his impressive start for SuperSport United, but after he gave in, he lightened up as he explained the reason behind his seamless adaptation.
During his six-year stint for Orlando Pirates, Gabuza’s career was filled with roller-coaster outings, the downs overshadowing the ups. In August 2018, he was in a heated exchange with the Ghost, throwing his jersey to them in the stands after assisting in their 2-1 win over Black Leopards, responding to their booing earlier in the match.
After he stormed off the pitched, he came back “injured”, but referee Thando Ndzandzeka was having none of it, sending him back to the dressing room for an early shower. However, his life as Matsantsantsa A Pitori shouldn’t be filled with such turbulence, mainly due to a fan base that’s not as demanding as the Ghost.
And Gabuza already appears to be enjoying the pressure-less life, scoring a brace in his club’s 3-0 win over Bidvest Wits in the MTN8 quarter-finals Sunday.
“I am happy that I am here. The way they play is where my strength lies, because that is how I also play. Their style of play allows me to be in the box,” Gabuza explained. “And as striker you need to be in the box in order to finish. The system here allows me to score goals, just like today (Sunday).”
So what’s been the difference? How has he gone from not scoring in 11 matches for Pirates to hitting the back of the net, twice, at SuperSport in only his second game?
“There’s a big difference,” he replied. “At Pirates, they were more on short passes and here there are not too many short passes. Sometimes, there’s diagonal balls (to tee up strikers), and that style of play is different to Pirates.”
Gabuza may not be the fanciest of strikers, that plays mesmeric football, but he makes up for that with his technical and aerial presence.
And that was the case when he jumped higher than his marker against Wits to send home a bullet header that was his team’s second goal after being teed up by Siyabonga Nhlapo.
“If you remember, most of the goals that I’ve scored are from headers, from the national team, Golden Arrows and Pirates. So, I am used to scoring with my head,’’ he said. “And it was a nice delivery from my teammates and as a striker, you need to be in the box in order to finish.”
Gabuza still maintains that as a footballer he’s more than willing to adjust to any style of play that the coach demands of him. It has, however, been the SuperSport system that appears to be working to his advantage, revitalising the bulky striker that was so influential for club and country during the 2014/15 season.
That term, Gabuza inspired the Sea Robbers to the CAF Confederations Cup final, while then Bafana Bafana coach Shakes “Ephraim” Mashaba earmarked him as his bulldozer in Africa. Gabuza, however, will hope hoping to continue the scoring spree in the league and MTN8 semi-finals, when they clash with rivals Mamelodi Sundowns over a two-legged contest.