Lebohang Maboe on the Sundowns supporters: 'There were times where they were ruthless to me'
Mamelodi Sundowns' hard-to-please supporters may be a difficult hurdle to negotiate for some players but this is certainly not the case for Lebohang Maboe.
The striker is grateful for the ‘tough love’ displayed by the supporters and said they motivated him when he struggled for goals during Sundowns' march to the championship.
Maboe was targeted by the supporters after playing 41 matches in all competitions and only managing four goals and one assist.
“Obviously it’s not nice to be always being criticised and hearing from people that you are not doing well‚ but tough love from the fans really motivated me‚” he said as Sundowns prepared for the Nedbank Cup final against Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.
Maboe finally came good in front of goals on the last day of the league season on Saturday after scoring the hat-trick that helped the Brazilians win their third successive title and tenth in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era.
“There were times where they (supporters) were ruthless to me but that goes with becoming a professional footballer. You have to be able to withstand the criticism and be able to move on.
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"I had a lot of support from my family‚ team-mates and the technical team. The technical team really supported me‚ and my team-mates urged me to keep my head up and keep on working hard. That’s what I did.
“I knew it was a phase that was going to pass at some stage. I have been through a lot in my career‚ even before I made it to the professional level.
"So‚ I have come a long way to just let a couple months to put me off. One thing about me is that people might see me struggle but they will never see me quit‚ it is just in my nature. I kept a positive mind‚ I knew my time would come and it was just about working hard.”
Looking back at the season‚ Maboe admitted that he was inconsistent.
“I was inconsistent and there were some games I felt I didn’t give as much as I would have liked to give to the team. There were times where I felt like I got a lot of chances to help the team to get points but I failed.
"I was too hard on myself but I focused on working hard because I knew that something was going to give.
“If I was not mentally strong‚ I would probably have broken down and ended up being negative‚ doing all the wrong things. I applied myself as professional as possible and it surely paid off.
"Coach Pitso Mosimane told me not to be too hard on myself and the goals will certainly come‚ and they came in the game against Black Leopards.
"My dad also played very big role‚ including my mom and my sister. They were behind me through thick and thin when things were not going my way.
"My dad told me these things do happen in football and I must just keep on working hard at training and during matches. I listened to the advice I got from my dad and I am glad that I was able to help the team against Leopards.”