Bafana Bafana

Da Gama's Meyiwa tribute

2014-10-28 07:22
Owen de Gama (Supplied)
Owen de Gama (Supplied)
Cape Town - Bafana Bafana assistant coach Owen da Gama has paid tribute to slain Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

The 53-year-old coached Meyiwa at Pirates when he was at the Soweto giants' helm and gave him his debut in a crunch match against Bloemfontein Celtic back in 2007.

"I remember it clearly, we played against Bloemfontein Celtic on October 19, 2007 - when the team (Pirates) was in relegation trouble," Da Gama told Football411.

"When I arrived at Pirates, I think I signed on September 27 and met the players the next day. Every coach sort of picks his lieutenants, the guys he can look to when the going gets tough.

"It was a tense situation, the team was at the bottom of the log, some players were unsure of their future at the club, but I had Lucky Lekgwathi and Lehlohonolo Seema for support.

"From the young guys that were in the squad, Senzo immediately stood out because of his personality. He was really an unbelievable spirit, even back then when he was barely 20 years old. He has such a positive attitude even though he was not starting, because Francis Chansa was number one at the time."

Many were surprised when Meyiwa was picked as the team captain as he did not have much international experience, but Da Gama feels the former Buccaneers' number one justified the decision with his performances in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

"When we met for the first time to discuss the national team captaincy, Shakes (Mashaba) came to us and said: 'I've got it guys, Senzo is the one'," he added.

"That decision has paid off, because he (Senzo) has since made game-deciding saves in all four matches that we have played in the qualifiers. In Sudan, against Nigeria, in Congo, he made crucial saves that had those gone in we would telling a different story.

"I'll really miss him. After every match we would shout 'clean sheet' - he had such amazing energy about him, he was such an unbelievable human being.

"We have not discussed the way forward, that's not important at this stage. What is important is that we share in the bereavement with the family and show our support. I really sympathise with his family because they have lost."

Meyiwa had yet to concede a goal in the AFCON qualifying campaign, where Bafana currently sit top of the Group A standings with eight points collected from four matches.


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