Peabo Lembethe (Tuks) firmly believes that when the “chips” are down the captain can’t afford to panic.
Judging from what happened during the Varsity Hockey semi-final when Tuks played Wits Lembethe is a real “Captain Cool”. With a mere 10 seconds left on the clock, he scored the equaliser which led to the game being decided by a penalty shootout. Tuks won to secure their place in today’s final against Maties in Stellenbosch.
Lembethe admits that he can’t resist watching the video of his game-changing goal again and again on Instagram.
“It is a moment I will remember for a long time to come. I credit Guy Elliott (Tuks head coach) for what happened. Just before I scored, Wits took the lead, which meant we were losing. While running to the halfway line the coach’s famous saying about no game ever being won or lost while there is still time on the clock came to mind.
“When the penalty corner was awarded I knew that this was the moment. We stuffed up our first attempt, but luckily another penalty corner was awarded. At this stage I could hear the crowd chanting my name, ‘Peabo…Peabo’. It made me realised that I am usually able to score when it matters. The ball was played to me; I knew it was now or never. Luckily I did not disappoint our fans and more importantly my teammates,” said the BA General student.
Lembethe views his heroic exploit as just one of those things a captain should do when the chips are down. A good understanding between coach and captain is also important to him.
“As a captain, I must have a good understanding what the coach expects from us as players. If the tactics seem not to work the captain should be able to fix what is happening on the field. There is no time to run to the bench to speak to the coach. Whatever had not been working could be discussed during halftime.
“Guy and I go a long way back. We met for the first time when I was playing at the Under-14 provincial tournament. At the time Guy was coaching the Northerns side. I scored a similar goal as the one I scored against Wits against his team. Afterwards, he came to congratulate me and bought me lunch. We had a long discussion about hockey. It was Guy who convinced me to come to Tuks after finishing matric at Maritzburg College.”
The Maritzburg College influence in Tuks hockey can’t be ignored. Currently, there are four Maritzburg “old boys” playing for the team. Quite a few of the support staff are also from the school.
As for tomorrow’s final Lembethe firmly believes that Tuks can beat Maties.
“During our first encounter, we conceded three soft goals. If we can stay calm as we did against Wits, I think we are in with a real chance. Maties play quite deep and are patient. They are waiting for their opponents to make mistakes from which they then try and capitalise. I am confident we know what needs to be done tomorrow,” said Lembethe who is currently part of the South African hockey squad.
By Wilhelm de Swardt