Even after being ravaged by injuries, the Pirates striker knows he can do anything thanks to his faith.
Orlando Pirates striker Tshegofatso Mabasa wears his faith on his sleeve – literally.
Before every match, without fail, Mabasa’s routine is to put on his kit, say a little prayer and write the Bible scripture Philippians 4:13 on his wristband.
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” said Mabasa ahead of Sundays’s CAF Confederation Cup match against Ahli Benghazi of Libya.
He said he has been writing this verse since 2014, which is when he became a professional footballer at Bloemfontein Celtic.
“Whenever things don’t go well for me, I look at the scripture and it always lifts me up,” Mabasa told City Press this week.
“In good or bad times, it keeps me going. I don’t change what I write, it’s always the same. It’s my favourite scripture.”
The 24-year-old has indeed needed all the strength he can get over the past 12 months. The going has been tough for him as he has struggled with a foot injury since last year.
The marksman from Pretoria began his career at Pirates on a high note as he became the club’s main goal-poacher.
Mabasa, who joined Bucs from Celtic in July 2019, scored seven goals in his debut season, but he later lost his place to Gabadinho Mhango.
Pirates were dealt a huge blow earlier in the season when Mabasa and fellow marksman Zakhele Lepasa suffered bad injuries. Lepasa is still undergoing rehabilitation on his ankle.
“It’s been draining and a roller coaster ride since the end of last season. I got injured in the final game of the season, which made me miss the start of this season,” he said.
He was injured against Stellenbosch – he came on as a substitute only to be stretchered off 10 minutes after replacing Mhango.
“When I recovered from injury, I played five games and then got the same injury again. Then I just focused on recovering. I give thanks to everyone who supported me during that time,” he said.
Injuries to the team’s forwards forced Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer to play without an outright striker, as the German had to turn to Thembinkosi Lorch and Deon Hotto for goals.
Mabasa and Mhango have gradually been introduced to the team since they returned from injury against Celtic early last month.
Most recently, Mabasa was trending on social media following Pirates’ CAF Confederations Cup home match against Nigerian side Enyimba.
Bucs won a penalty and Mabasa confidently stepped up to take it on that rainy day on March 17 at Orlando Stadium.
Unfortunately, he slipped and blasted the ball into the empty stands. However, Mabasa redeemed himself by scoring a late headed winner in the 89th minute.
“That game had a lot of emotion. We know we have to win all our home games in the CAF competition so that we stand a chance to progress to the next round.
“We fought until the end and the winning goal finally came. It was also my first goal since coming back from injury. It was a huge relief to help the team get the points,” Mabasa said.
“When you’re in the public eye, you will always have critics. If you’re not strong mentally, then you won’t survive.
“After that penalty miss, I remembered the scripture on my arm and I am thankful that I got a lot of encouragement from my team-mates after missing the penalty.”
Thanks to Mabasa’s winning goal, the Buccaneers are heading to their game in Libya against Ahli Benghazi at the top of the standings.
Mabasa is hopeful that they will return home with a positive result from the north of the continent.
“It has been a great experience playing in the CAF competition. It is the first time for many of us. We are giving it our all and hopefully the results will go our way.
“It hasn’t been easy with all the Covid-19 regulations, but we have adapted,” he said. “We have analysed the opponents and watched their games. We have a plan against them and we just have to make sure we execute.”
Pirates are flying the flag for South Africa as one of the contenders in the Confederation Cup, while Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs are doing the same in the top-tier Champions League.