It Was Challenging
Soccer Laduma|27 November 2019
Imagine the scene…you are playing a game of your life, fighting to qualify for the Olympic Games through the lifeline of the third and fourth place play-off.

The match ends 2-2 after fulltime and it is on to the dreaded spectre of the penalty shootout to decide the outcome. As the captain, you go up first to take the spot kick, and then miss. Horror, horror, horror! This was the reality that confronted Tercious Malepe at Cairo International Stadium on 22 November 2019 – oh, how he must have wished to have been somewhere else in that moment. In the end, though, SouthAfrica, who should have sealed the result in regulation time but took their foot off the pedal and allowed Ghana back into the game, emerged victorious, and you can bet there would have been no player more relieved than the Chippa United man at the end of the spot kicks. In this interview, the 22-year-old defender-cum-midfielder relives the highs and lows of the tournament from an Amaglug-glug perspective with Soccer Laduma’s Beaver Nazo.

Beaver Nazo: First off, congrats on securing a place in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Tercious Malepe: Thank you very much. We are delighted to be heading to Tokyo next year. We worked hard and our end goal was to be amongst the teams that are going there.

BN: The penalty shootout in the third/fourth place play-off against Ghana was quite nervy. You went up first and ballooned the ball over the bar. Goodness, you must have wished for the earth to swallow you up right there and then!

TM: Normally you lift your head up after missing a penalty. I didn’t take it to heart because I knew that even though I had missed, the boys were supporting me. We stick together. As the captain, I had to lead by example and be brave enough to take the first spot kick. When things are going wrong, we are there for one another. I was happy that we won in the end.

BN: Fortunately, goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto came to the party, saving two kicks.

TM: Of course, man, he has been doing this even during the COSAFA Cup, saving penalties. He is more like Ronwen Williams when it comes to penalties. He is very confident, which is why I knew that he would save one and, indeed, he saved two. We were so confident even going to the shootout because we knew that he would save us.

BN: In that encounter, you had the Egyptians, who had packed the stadium waiting for the final that was to be contested later that day by Egypt and Ivory Coast, cheering for you. It must have given you guys goosebumps.

TM: It was very good to see. I think it is because even though the referee was harsh towards us when we played them (Egypt), we never complained or said bad stuff about them or the referee. That is what I like about our team as well – we don’t complain. We just do our talking with our feet. They were cheering for us, we noticed that and we really appreciate their support.

BN: Now that you mention it, what went wrong against Egypt in the semi-finals?

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