English striker ‘super-excited’ at prospect of slaying Kaizer Chiefs
English striker Sam Mason-Smith is looking forward to the potential of a major scalp when his Stellenbosch FC side travel to Durban to face Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup Last-32 on Saturday night.
Mason-Smith admits he did not know much about South African football prior to his arrival in the country‚ but Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were two clubs he was familiar with‚ and helping to beat the former would be a career highlight for him.
“When the draw was made I was super-excited‚ especially as it was away from home‚ so that presents an even bigger challenge‚” the 26-year-old told TimesLIVE.
“I knew about Chiefs and Pirates because Manchester United used to come out here and play (in the Vodacom Challenge). I have watched Chiefs play and I honestly believe we can get something out of the game.
“We are trying to get that playoff position (in the National First Division) and although we have had some poor results lately‚ we are playing some good stuff.
“I have played in cup games before in different parts of the world and they are the same – it is 11 versus 11 on the day and upsets are always possible. We really believe we can get a result and go through to the next round.”
The tall Mason-Smith is a central striker in the typical No. 9 mould‚ and was signed by Stellenbosch in January after a trial having spent the previous six seasons in New Zealand’s Premier League.
“I was in the academy of English side Cambridge United before earning a scholarship at Conference side Histon FC. At the age of 19 I was given the opportunity to go and play in New Zealand and I decided to leave home – I couldn’t have moved any further away from the UK to be fair.
“I had a good six years in New Zealand‚ where I established myself as a pretty decent all-round player.”
Mason-Smith netted 11 goals in 19 Premier League games for Hawke’s Bay United in his final season in New Zealand‚ but says the chance to play professionally in South Africa was a big drawcard.
“I have signed to the end of the season. I am enjoying Cape Town and Stellenbosch‚ it’s a great club‚” he said.
“We will see what happens after that‚ if I will stay. I would be happy to‚ but I would also be open to looking at other options in South Africa if I was to leave.”