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“I Spotted Thabo (Matlaba) While He Was Attending Trials At Witbank Spurs” - Abbie Rasimphi

Bafana Bafana v Nigeria, yes man! It’s Wednesday, September 10, and tonight I will be at the Cape Town Stadium to support coach Shakes Mashaba and his charges.

I am nervous, and am expecting a challenging encounter against the current African champions, however I am confident that Bafana will deliver on home soil. 

In addition, it’s Soccer Laduma day! Have you got your copy of Soccer Laduma yet? Please, let me know what you think of this week’s edition.

Included in today’s headlines are, “Downs eye Khune deal”, “Brondby to reignite Vilakazi interest in January?”, “Sox, Ndoro swap deal for Buc?” and “Chiefs to loan Bukenya out?”

In this week’s edition, we invited our readers to log onto the Soccer Laduma Supporters Club, where they can read an exclusive interview with Abbie Rasimphi, the man who looks after a number of players, including Orlando Pirates and Bafana star, Thabo Matlaba. Soccer Laduma’s Masebe Qina caught up with Abbie, I hope you enjoy the Q&A.

Cheers Eddie

 

Masebe Qina: Firstly, football fans would like to know about you. Who is Abbie Rasimphi and when did your love for football begin?  

Abbie Rasimphi: My love for football started with Orlando Pirates. Apart from coming from Venda, my family and I have another home in Diepkloof. The team that I knew while growing up in Diepkloof was Pirates. I was still a young boy when the elders in my family took me to the stadium to watch Pirates play. 

MQ: Did you know at the time that you would be a football agent and able to negotiate deals for players with Pirates’ chairman Dr Irvin Khoza?     

AR: I am courageous bhuti wam (my brother). In life, whenever I look at something I see possibilities, that’s the courage I have. In 1996 I started a supporters branch for Orlando Pirates in Pretoria. I was the chairman of that supporters branch from 1996 to 2007. I would be at the stadiums with the late Mzion (Mofokeng) and Makhalanjano (Charles Fantisi). (Otto) Jwarha found me there. Another one who found me there is the mlungu called Dejan (Miladinovic). I was the captain of Pirates supporters and they called me Captain Dungi (named after former Pirates midfielder John Moeti).        

MQ: How did you start working as an agent for footballers?  

AR: There were these two players that were at Pirates and were not performing well at the time. I won’t mention their names. We would be singing behind the goals and things were not happening on the field for the two players in question. They were foreigners. I can’t remember the exact dates, but it was around 1997 or 1998. I decided that it was time for me to go and look for (better) players for the team.  

MQ: We are listening …

AR: In the beginning the idea was to go out and search for players for Pirates. I didn’t know that I would end up looking for players for everyone. 

MQ: Did you get the players you were looking for? 

AR: When I started it was a bit of a struggle. We had a team that was based in Pretoria. We would get players and organise friendly games for them against PSL teams. The team was called Taverners FC. We organised friendly games for the boys against clubs like (Jomo) Cosmos and Pirates. That’s how we found Juju. I’m talking about Thulasizwe Mbuyane. Juju was a referee in Mamelodi. He played as well. He played everywhere on the field. He was a goalkeeper, centre back, striker, right winger – all the positions. Juju was everything. He was playing for the LFA clubs (Local Football Associations) at the time. We took him to Ga-Rankuwa United in the Vodacom League. That was promotion for him. He played there and helped the team promoted to the NFD. I still believe in Juju even today. He was meant to join Pirates straight after leaving Ga-Rankuwa United. Free State Stars signed him before Pirates. I’m sure he didn’t believe that he would be going to Pirates.      

MQ: Sure …  

AR: That’s how it all started for me. I went to Swaziland for the Cosafa games. I spotted (Joseph) Kamwendo there. Floyd Mbele was there and we negotiated and Floyd said he wanted the player. Arrangements were made and Kamwendo went to the club (Pirates). I grew from strength to strength since then.      

MQ: Thabo Matlaba is arguably the best player from your stable at the moment. How did you discover such talent?   

AR: I spotted Thabo while he was attending trials at Witbank Spurs. The trials were in Witbank and he was wearing a Pirates tracksuit when I first saw him.  I sent Albert Kometsi (former Witbank Spurs player) to get me Thabo’s phone number. I didn’t want to get close to Thabo because club chairmen get nervous when they see me. I called him and he told me that he is from Tembisa and that he was there for a trial. He was playing for (Elijah) Mahlangu’s M Tigers. I told him that he shouldn’t go there (Spurs) again because he deserved to play in the PSL not in the NFD. I told him to come to me. Thabo came to Pretoria and slept in my flat. I spoke to Gavin Hunt and I sent Thabo to SuperSport United for a trial. Gavin Hunt gave him five minutes on the field and said, “He’s not a good player.” I assured Thabo that he was going to play in the PSL. Thabo is a good boy who listens. (Themba) Mafu from Witbank Spurs was busy calling Thabo’s father saying that the player should return to his club. Thabo went back to Spurs and burnt his thigh while boiling water when he was there. I called him and sent him to Pirates.               

MQ: Really? 

AR: Ja, I sent him to Pirates and we found Floyd Mbele there. Floyd wanted a left back at the time. I told him that there was a left back available, but he was from the Vodacom League. I told him that he was a special talent. Floyd trusts me with the players,  however, he told me that (Ruud) Krol was under pressure at the time. He said I should find the boy a club elsewhere and promised that if he was as good as I explained they would go and buy him at a later stage. Floyd made that promise.    

MQ: Some people believe that Matlaba is no longer PSL material as he has the talent to play in any league in the world. Are you planning to send the player overseas in the near future?   

AR: Saying the player is no longer PSL material will be an insult to Pirates. That’s where people started knowing about him, Pirates gave the boy a chance. Thabo is a national team player, he is quality. Pirates don’t allow their players to go for trials at other clubs. If you play for Pirates it means that you have special talent. Overseas clubs should come and buy players at Pirates.  

MQ: Bra Abbie, thanks for your time and all the best.  

AR: Thanks bhuti.  

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