Free State Stars' most loyal servant Paulus Masehe plans to retire next season
Free State Stars' most loyal servant‚ veteran captain Paulus Masehe‚ said after winning the man-of-the-match award in his team's Nedbank Cup final win over Maritzburg United that he will retire at the end of next season.
Masehe was immense in defensive midfield saving his best performance of Stars' first trophy win since 1994 until the biggest game in Saturday night's 1-0 cup final victory for Ea Lla Koto at Cape Town Stadium.
The 34-year-old one-time Mamelodi Sundowns striker from QwaQwa‚ one of the towns where Stars originated along with current base Bethlehem‚ said he wants to play a role guiding the club's younger players in the 2018-19 Caf Confederation Cup‚ which the team qualified for as Nedbank winners.
“I will retire after next season. Because it will be my 10th season here at Free State Stars‚ and I wouldn’t want to go beyond that‚” Masehe said after the final.
“Because I think also that I can contribute much better from the sidelines now with the experience that I’ve gained working with different coaches.
“And again‚ as it is right now for us it’s going to be the greatest experience‚ more especially for the youngsters‚ to go and play in Africa.
“Because most of us experienced guys have played there a few times. For them it’s going to be a new scenario.”
Masehe was the picture of calm collection marshalling Stars from defensive midfield in the second half for Stars‚ who‚ after Goodman Dlamini's goal against the run of play in first-half injury time shut up shop against Maritzburg.
“I had to. I had to step up my game‚" the warhorse captain said.
“Because you must understand‚ with Maritzburg‚ I've worked with coach Ernst [Middendorp‚ Maritzburg coach Fadlu Davids's predecessor and mentor] before‚ and I understand exactly how they play.
“So I had to step my game up because they were bombarding that midfield. They were overloading it left right and centre.
“So we had to make sure that we stopped their vertical passes. Because they play mostly on vertical passes and then the third man running behind the defence.
“But we managed to contain them. And it was very difficult – it wasn't easy.
“Maritzburg are a team of young players who have got so much energy and they play with high fluidity in their game‚ and they are well coached.
“To be able to contain them you are going to have to work hard. And I don't think they created even a single clearcut chance. They were really struggling to penetrate us.
“So we did well as a team. And for me‚ winning man-of-the-match in such a big game means a lot for me.”
Stars won their first trophy since the Coca-Cola Cup (now the Telkom Knockout) in 1994‚ where they beat Hellenic 3-2 in extra time of that year's final.
* Marc Strydom was in Cape Town as a guest of Nedbank