SA Football Association technical director Neil Tovey believes that if today’s Bafana Bafana strikers had the same determination as Phil Masinga‚ SA would be qualifying for more international tournaments.
Tovey was a long-time national teammate of Masinga‚ who died on Sunday after battling with cancer‚ and shared arguably Bafana’s greatest moments with the tall striker.
The former national team skipper says he is especially appreciative of the hard graft Masinga put in as the side made a difficult reintroduction to international football in 1992.
The football world took to social media to pay tribute to soccer star Phil Masinga who died on January 13 2018 in Johannesburg. Masinga made international headlines after he scored the legendary goal against Congo that sent South Africa to its first World Cup in France in 1998.
“What Phil had in those early days was resilience and a fierce determination to succeed‚” Tovey said. “If we had more strikers like him today we would be qualifying for more tournaments.
“He also added an extra dimension for us. Generally we wanted to play through the midfield because we had the creativity of Shoes [John Moshoeu] and Doc [Doctor Khumalo]‚ but in tougher games we could go direct to Phil up front and he would bring the midfielders into play.”
Tovey recalls difficult times for Masinga and admits there was a time that the striker had to be persuaded to keep playing for the national team as fans continually booed him “There was a point when he felt it wasn’t worth it‚ getting booed every game by the people who should love him.
“As a footballer it is terrible to be booed by your own fans.
“We would rally around him though and he was never alone. But he soldiered on and thank goodness he did as it paid dividends. He ended up with a Nations Cup winner’s medal and of course scored that amazing goal to take us to the World Cup [in 1998].