Njabulo Ngidi
1 minute read
31 Jul 2015
11:00 am

Rakhale – Coach Tinkler first, then fans

Njabulo Ngidi

Thabo Rakhale is such a fan favourite with the Ghost that his spot in Orlando Pirates' starting line-up was all but guaranteed, especially with the fans playing coach.

Thabo Rakhale of Orlando Pirates during the Orlando Pirates training at Rand Stadium. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

But the tricky Buccaneers midfielder was humble in talking about making the starting XI for the Pirates side that will play their arch-rivals tomorrow at FNB Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd.

“I honestly didn’t expect it,” Rakhale said. “I guess they like what I do and have seen from me so far. I appreciate them voting for me.

“The coach keeps encouraging me to express myself and he gives me the means to do what I love. He told me I should show my skill for the benefit of the team. Being disciplined has really helped me because as much as I attack, I can also track back. That’s what the coach has instilled in me.”

Rakhale was mobbed by fans upon the team’s arrival on Tuesday at the OR Tambo airport from Tunisia where he scored the goal that beat CS Sfaxien 1-0.

That goal, an audacious chip, further endeared him to the Ghost.

A good performance against Chiefs will increase that love. But even though he is a fan favourite and they selected the line-up, he is unflinching on who he will be playing for.

“Before the fans, it’s the coach who played me,” Rakhale said. “That’s when they saw what I could do. It’s the coach who believed in me. The fans are just seeing the fruits of the labour put in by the coach.

“I have to balance pleasing both of them, but the coach comes first. I am happy with the progress I have made. When I came back from loan at Polokwane City I wasn’t playing that much. It took me about nine league games before I was able play. I was working on my game before that. I am glad that since I got my chance I have done well.”