Throwback Thursday: James Mothibi

The Buccaneers played some great attacking football in a team which had the likes of Edelbert Dinha, Sailor Tshabalala, Tonic Chabalala, Edward Malinga, Joseph Makhanya, Lucky Lekgwathi, Gift Leremi, Steve Lekoelea, Lebogang Mokoena and Phumudzo Manenzhe, but they missed out on a great opportunity to lift the title at the end of that campaign.

On the final day of the season, Pirates unleashed a new kit against Bush Bucks, hoping that they would go onto win the title, while Amakhosi were playing Bloemfontein Celtic in Free State.

Both sides were on 59 points heading into the final match of the season, so there was no room for error. Pirates, though, drew 1-1 with Bucks and Chiefs beat Celtic 2-0, thanks to a brace from Zambian hitman Collins Mbesuma.

The Buccaneers lost out on the title and Lebogang Mokoena is one of the Pirates players who were inconsolable at the end of the match.

“Against Bush Bucks in the last game of the season, I remember we were unveiling the new kit that we were going to play with in the CAF Champions League.

“But before I go there, let me talk about the penultimate matches of the season. Chiefs were playing against Bush Bucks and it was a Wednesday. We were watching Bush Bucks and Sbu Mazibuko, who was on loan from Pirates, was playing for them at that time. That night Bush Bucks had an opportunity to beat Chiefs. They were leading 3-1 and Chiefs ended up winning 4-3. The last goal was scored by David Radebe [Chiefs striker].”

So going into the final game of the season, with both sides on 59 points, Pirates needed to score seven goals and hope that Chiefs lose or do not win by a score line of over 1-0.

Playing Bucks, however, was no walk in the park.

“To win the league, the scenario was like this; if Chiefs beat Celtic 1-0 and we beat Bush Bucks by seven goals, then we were going to win the league. So it was goal difference but it was not going to be easy because I knew Professor Ngubane [Bush Bucks coach] wasn’t going to allow such things to happen because they had nothing to lose.”

Mothibi, whose highest salary as a professional footballer was R10 000, is now running his own construction company and has a NGO foundation which is called James Mothibi Sports Development Academy. It includes various sporting codes, but he focuses on football coaching only.

“On April 7 our Under-10s, 13s, 14s and 17s be playing in Gauteng against Wits University,” he says.

“I’m still waiting for a response from Kaizer Chiefs and I’m going to have a game against the development team of Augusto Palacios.

“I’m also helping with the Love Life campaign in the Northern Cape. I go around to motivate kids and I tell them about my life. I was introduced by Andre van Wyk, the provincial Love Life coordinator.”

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