Absa Premiership

Gabuza is one hell of a striker - Jomo

Thamsanqa Gabuza (Gallo Images)
Thamsanqa Gabuza (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - In the wake of the controversy surrounding Thamsanqa "Gandaganda" Gabuza, one of the greatest players produced by the Buccaneers, Jomo Sono, has dubbed him "one hell of a striker".

This follows the incident during Tuesday night's match between Orlando Pirates and Black Leopards in Polokwane, when Gabuza took off his shirt, threw it at a section of Bucs supporters and stormed off down the tunnel.

Obviously, having reached the boiling point of frustration at being booed by the club's diehards, Gabuza - who has had a love-hate relationship with the Ghosts since coming on board in 2013 - did the unthinkable by going beserk.

WATCH: Orlando Pirates star Gabuza's on-field meltdown

After sending in an innocuous cross that deflected off defender Thivhavhudzi Ndou, with the ball ending up nestled at the back of the net, Gabuza behaved like a bull in a china shop - even breaking off from coach Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic's attempt to restrain him.

This sparked a social media frenzy, with some calling for the player to be heavily sanctioned and dismissed from the club, while a few sympathised with him.

In the middle of the storm, Pirates boss Irvin "The Iron Duke" Khoza came to Gabuza's defence, telling The Star newspaper: "Gabuza is a special player. He is a team player. He makes the team laugh with his jokes.

"Gabuza is hard-working and he loves the club. There's something special about the boy and that's why I'm on his side."

In his typical oratory, Khoza even compared Gabuza with the late, charismatic Senzo Meyiwa, and even went further and made an example of Jerry "Legs of Thunder" Sikhosana who, after being vilified, went on to score the most important goal that won the Buccaneers the CAF Champions League cup in 1995.

READ: Khoza: I can't condone Gabuza's actions, it was stupid

On Saturday, Sono waxed lyrical about the player, even saying that he would be the first to snatch him up should Pirates put him on a free transfer.

"And I know that many clubs would clamour for his services. Gabuza is a great, quality striker. He has got everything and works very hard," he said.

However, the man known as "Troublemaker" had some advice for the young lad: "I know exactly what he is going through. Pirates and (Kaizer) Chiefs supporters are very demanding.

"He should forget about playing to prove supporters wrong and concentrate on playing for Pirates. Sometimes players even rehearse their celebration moves before scoring a goal, which can lead to them missing even the easiest of chances.

"Sometimes he must play as if he has cotton wool in his ears and just concentrate on the job at hand, and then he will score a lot of goals."

Mjomane also reminisced about a time when he was confronted by supporters who wanted to "moer" him after Elias "Shuffle" Mokopane missed a penalty in a Soweto derby against Chiefs.

"My sin was not taking that crucial kick. Even my explanation that Shuffle had insisted on taking it fell on deaf ears as they bayed for my blood," he recalled.

Khoza said Gabuza - who has since apologised for his actions - had been referred to a psychologist, and the club will await a report "because his attitude wasn't normal".

READ: Pirates to consult psychologist on Gabuza meltdown

Khoza said the future of the striker at the club would be determined by the psychologist's report and the advice of the striker's coach.

But, he added, Gabuza had shown remorse and had apologised to him, the club and the supporters.

This may just help bring into sharp focus the importance of sports psychologists. A number of South African sportspeople have been the victims of booing. Some have even been exposed to violence.

Pitso Mosimane, Steve Komphela, Teko Modise, August Makalakalane and Chippa Masinga come to mind.

Addressing the issue this week, Mosimane said: "They (players) are human beings. We can say whatever we want to say, but the stress and the pressure come when the relief comes. Everything erupts and, when it erupts, it is not under control, even for yourself - never mind the particular guy."

Komphela said: "The biggest challenge with us human beings is to look at what we want to achieve, without acknowledging the fact that the other person across from us is also human. Competition must not bring an element of ruthlessness and irrational actions."

The last word belongs to Sono: "Supporters believe that they are our bosses as footballers because they pay to watch us. They are correct, but this does not give them the right to abuse players or to misbehave.

"Gabuza must not play to prove them wrong, he must tell himself that football is his career and play it to the best of his ability. Even Jesus Christ was not loved by everybody."

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