Shabba roots for Africa
Shabba roots for Africa

Posted in Features, News on Jun 14, 2018.

Siphiwe Tshabalala knows all about playing at a World Cup. Everybody will remember his stunning goal at the 2010 World Cup. “It’s an opportunity that I will always cherish,” expresses ‘Shabba’ on having been part of the biggest sporting event in the world. 

The 2018 World Cup will kick off tonight (Thursday, 14 June) with host nation Russia facing Saudi Arabia with the match starting at 17:00. The Kaizer Chiefs midfielder knows all about playing the opening game of a World Cup, having done so eight years ago when then host nation South Africa played against Mexico at a packed FNB Stadium.

The encounter was still goalless when Tshabalala retrieved a through pass in the 55th minute, directed a stunner at goal with the ball landing into the back of the net. Not only did the players and fans in the stadium erupt with sheer joy, the celebrations trickled throughout the entire nation. Sadly, Mexico’s captain, Rafael Márquez, cancelled out Tshabalala’s goal as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

“To have scored that goal was such a great occasion,” he reflects. “It was the reward for all the hard work put in during our preparations ahead of the World Cup, including those training camps in Brazil and Germany.”  

Tshabalala admits he often finds himself reminiscing on scoring that wonder goal. “It was one of those special moments of glory I will never forget.”

When it comes to the World Cup in Russia, the 33-year-old will root for the African countries participating in the event - Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.

He doesn’t have a particular favourite. “I will back all the African countries representing our continent. I will support all five.”

The midfielder admits though that he will follow with more than average interest, the Liverpool duo of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah. They will carry the hopes of Senegal and Egypt respectively, and the African continent as a whole.

Eight years ago, Shabba played at the World Cup, now he will watch the matches from the comfort of his couch at home. “I will watch the games and get inspired.”

“On paper, not many football analysts think that an African country will go far at this World Cup,” Tshabalala continues. “I feel, however, that there is a big surprise in the air. At least one African country will reach the semis and, hopefully, even go all the way.”  

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