Johannesburg - In a week when the world was mourning the tragic passing of football players from Brazil – who were among the 71 passengers killed when the plane they were on crashed into a hillside near Medellin in Colombia – it was only fitting that there was something to celebrate.
Monday’s plane tragedy wiped out almost the entire Chapecoense team and coaching staff. The plane was taking the rising Brazilian football stars to Medellin to compete in the final of the Sudamerica Cup against Atlético Nacional of Colombia.
Then, in the midst of all the sadness, a South African gave the world something to be cheerful about – a moment of brilliance for the world to celebrate.
It heralded a remarkable week in South African football, surprising everyone – including man of the moment Oscarine Masuluke.
The Baroka goalkeeper netted a spectacular goal in dramatic fashion – with a bicycle kick – in the sixth minute of additional time. His side was trailing Orlando Pirates by a single goal in an Absa Premiership clash at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
The astounding victory came a day after another dramatic moment – when referee Victor Gomes sent off a ball boy in the game between Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City, after he threw a second ball onto the pitch while the first was still in play. Pundits described it as a possible world first.
Masuluke’s goal could be a contender for the football Oscars, the Fifa Puskás Awards, in the category of best goal of the year – but only for next year’s contest as entries for this year are closed.
Of course, a goalkeeper’s primary role is to stop goals. But when they score a goal, it makes international headlines. So, it was not surprising that 23-year-old Masuluke became an instant international hero following his extraordinary kick on Wednesday night.
Footage of the goal has since gone viral on social media and has been featured on the websites of newspapers around the world‚ including most of the UK’s major publications, such as The Guardian‚ The Telegraph‚ The Sun and the Daily Mail.
A day after salvaging a draw for his side against the Buccaneers with his spectacular last-minute equaliser, Masuluke was still on cloud nine as he reminisced about the wonder goal.
“I didn’t sleep last night,” he said. “In fact, no one slept as we went through that moment again and again. Even now, when I see it, I still cannot believe it. I am shocked that I did something like this. I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life.”
He would do it again given the opportunity.
“It was all about taking my chances. I happened to be at the right place at the right time. But it was no fluke as I used to score goals when I was a striker.”
So what made him push forward?
He said his coach, Kgoloko Thobejane, encouraged him to go out in their previous game against Cape Town City, but he lacked the courage to do so. “This time, I felt confident as I was angry that the referee did not protect me when I was fouled, which led to Pirates’ goal. I wanted to make amends for that, so when the chance came, I did not hesitate to leave my post and go for it.”
Masuluke compared this game with matches he played three years ago, against current Pirates goal-scorer Justice Chabalala, back in his hometown of Giyani in Limpopo. “Back then, he [Chabalala] would score for his club and I would score for mine. So, when he scored against me on Wednesday night, it didn’t go down well with me. I wanted to cancel his goal.”
But Masuluke is not getting carried away and says he still has a long way to go. “We have only played 10 games and there are 20 more to go. I am still learning the ropes of the professional league and have learnt so much from my mistakes. I think I am improving with every game and will take it one game at a time.”
While many have touted the goal as a serious contender for the goal of the season, Masuluke said he did not want to think about the award as yet.
And the dance? “My wife sent me a video of the dance after I missed her birthday celebration earlier this year. This was my way of making up for not having celebrated with her, because that’s how she was dancing on her big day.”
He hopes to showcase his dance moves again in future as he will not hesitate to push forward when his team needs him. The world can’t wait!