My turn will come - Matsau
My turn will come - Matsau

Posted in News on Mar 27, 2002.

Daniel Matsau, like a disciplined soldier, got injured while on national duty. The injury was so serious that he was ruled out of club action for the whole season.

For that, he missed some glorious Amakhosi moments while nursing his broken leg.

Understandably so, he was frustrated and to a certain extent angry. After a great campaign in the 2001 Mandela Cup, where he scored to goals in the process, he featured in the off-season Vodacom Challenge.

Massaro's impressive performance in the Vodacom Challenge tempted the national selectors to rope him in for an unofficial friendly tournament in Iran. Unofficial because there were no caps awarded to national players in that tournament.

The healing process is almost complete, although not to the satisfaction of the medical team, but Matsau is happy to be back at training. For him this is a positive sign that he would soon return to action.

Talking about that unfortunate incident against Iran in August last year, Matsau doe not seem to have a clearer picture of what happened before he was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

"A ball was played into space," he recalls. "And as I went for the ball, a defender came from behind and hacked me. At first I thought it was not serious but as I tried to get up, I started feeling the pain and went dizzy. The next thing I was sent to hospital and was told I had a broken shinbone."

That was a major setback for the nippy striker as he had just regained a regular place in the Amakhosi first eleven. The league was also about to kick-off and his hopes of cementing a place in the starting lineup were dashed.

Matsau missed the BP Top Eight, Coca-Cola and Mandela Cup victories. “I was still at home and only watched the guys on television. It was great and was also excited. Sadly I could not be part of the celebrations,” Matsau reminisces.

"Accidents to happen,” team manager Bobby Motaung told the star after being admitted to Rosebank Clinic. “Playing football is like driving a car. Sometimes you do have accidents and that’s part of the game. You just have to be strong and positive.”

Those words and the support from his teammates and supporters gave him the courage to be strong. “The support was incredible. I have never had so much attention and in a way that helped me to cope. My mother in particular was very supportive. Every time I play she would watch on television and she would call after the match in case I had some knocks.”

After representing South Africa in the Olympic games, Matsau’s next step was to play for his country at senior level. “I was hoping to play at the Nations Cup and maybe the World Cup later,” he says. “Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that. I just have to focus on my recovery and see what the future have in store for me.”

Massaro started training with the rest of the team a couple of months ago but had to be placed on special programme after doctors discovered that his muscles were not yet strong enough. He will not return to action for at least six months.

"David (Milner) sometimes takes me through to the gym and stresses that I shouldn’t put too much pressure on the leg. Once I have fully recovered I might still battle psychologically and I guess that’s why they are giving me so much time to recover,” he says.

There was a time when the team was battling to find the back of the net with the strikers under the spotlight as Amakhosi’s title hopes went up in smoke. “It’s all in the game and it is not fair to single out the strikers or any individual when the team is not doing well,” he says. “It’s a team effort and we must all shoulder the responsibility.”

Referees also came under the spotlight especially after the injury to Jabu Pule. Coach Muhsin Ertugral vehemently lashed out at the men in the middle for not protecting creative players.

Matsau could have perhaps avoided the injury had the referee been tougher on rough play. But the quietly-spoken Massaro feels otherwise. “They are human beings and we need to give them the benefit of the doubt. The challenge is on the players to be fair and honest and play the ball and not the man.”

Matsau’s injury coupled with the departure of Siyabonga Nomvete were a major setback to the team and coach was forced to go on the transfer market to look for replacements. Shaun Permall, Kenny Niemach, Phumlani Mkhize and now recently Zimbabwean Kelvin Mushangazhike were all brought to Naturena.

"It’s going to be tough getting back into the team but I do not want to worry much about that. I need to focus on getting better and worry about playing once I have regained match fitness,” says Matsau.

"But yes we do have quality strikers and competition will always be tough. In a way this is good for the team because those who get a chance will know that if they are not performing there’ll always be someone waiting to take their position,” Matsau says.

Matsau made his international debut with Amaglug-glug back in 1997 in the 0-0 draw against neighbours Mozambique. He went on to play against world-class teams like Argentina in the Espoirs Tournament where South Africa lost 1-0. He also played against England and France in the same tournament as Shakes Mashaba youngsters failed to register victory against the world heavyweights.

Scoring two goals against Ghana in Accra in the Olympic qualifiers, which ended in a 2-2 draw, was some of his highlights in the national under-23.

Those were not the only goals; he scored a spectacular 87th minute goal to give Mashaba’s boys a 1-0 win against New Zealand in the play-offs after coming on as a replacement for Lebohang Kukame.

Few would bet against Massaro winning his place back in the first team. But whatever happens, you can bet this dynamite with a big heart will overcome this setback and find his way back to the Amakhosi arsenal.

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