Philemon Chippa Masinga gone too soon
Let me tell you all something, Chippa was highly respected across the continent and the globe, his enormous talent was well-appreciated, coupled with his humility both on and off the field.
Quite, off the field, but dynamite on it.
This was proven in 1996 when Phil Masinga, leading from the front, helped Bafana Bafana take the biggest trophy on the continent, The Africa Nations Cup.
Whilst being loyal brothers in the struggle, South Africa and Zambia have always been great rivals in football.
I vividly remember playing against Bafana Bafana in 1997 in the second leg of a 1998 France World Cup qualifier, here at Soccer City.
We had drawn in the 1st leg in Zambia 0-0, so the return leg was do or die.
Well , what is now history is that Helman Mhkelele scored the first goal, followed Phil who scored in the 16th minute, the final blow was from Mark Williams which ended Zambia’s hopes of qualifying to the next round of the World Cup.
Having eliminated the KK11, I was happy to see that our brothers Bafana Bafana, through Phil Masinga’s all important cracker of a goal against Congo, represented Southern Africans in their first ever appearance in this global showcase.
Another notable game was the Nelson Mandela Farewell game 1999 – World All Stars vs Africa 11, in honour of the great man who was about to step down as President.
This farewell match for the President of South Africa took place August 17 1999.
Coaching the World 11 team was England coach Roy Hodgson and his team included Brazilian captain Dunga, Christian Karembeu, Hidetoshi Nakata and Thomas Hassler to mention but a few.
Our African 11 coached Jomo Sono consisting of Lucas Radebe, Doctor Khumalo, Mark Fish and Phil Masinga.
A great line up for a great leader before 40 000 people at Ellis Park. I scored two goals in that game; the second one being scored after a beautiful assist from Phil.
He was able to provide me with this wonderful assist apart from him being a prolific finisher. The final score was 2-2.
I had a head start on Phil and Lucas in Europe when I started paying in Belgium and later in Holland.
I can tell you this; it was not child’s play. From our African homes to foreign lands came with it a whole new level of settling in.
Both the winters and the spectators were cruel.
The harsh winters, we could tolerate, through warm winter clothing, but the chants and the slurs, we had nothing to wear but our thick black African skins.
The only way to prove them wrong was to knuckle under and put in the double effort to prove we were just as good as our teammates.
I take my hat off and have utmost respect for my fellow Southern African football colleagues who excelled against all odds in foreign countries.
Especially in this era (25 years ago) when racism was the order of the day and was not being called out.
Boys like Phil Masinga are pioneers, and showed the way that with hard work, courage and tenacity you can make it anywhere.
Phil Masinga’s career is an example for the players of today to emulate.
Later on after our playing days were over, we were appointed, together with an outstanding crew of former African players, as FIFA World Cup 2010 ambassadors this included the only African to win the World Footballer of the year and standing President of Liberia, George Weah.
During this time leading up to the announcement in 2004, we all worked together with one common goal, for South Africa to host the World Cup in 2010.
This goal we did score together on the same team as brothers in arms.
Go well Phil, your legacy will live on both here and in heaven, where you will join a gallant team of footballing greats.
My Gallant teammates we lost in 1993 and your teammates we lost – Sizwe Motaung & Shoes Moshoeu.
One thing I can say for sure …is that football in all its glory …..is being played in Heaven. Go well my brother…….