NWU defender Khopotso Moshapo has emerged as the saviour of his team on a couple of occasions so far in the 2023 Men’s Varsity Football tournament.
With remarkable headers, he not only secured victory over CUT but also salvaged a crucial draw against UFS. NWU's hard-fought 2-1 victory over CUT at the NWU Mafikeng Stadium had fans on the edge of their seats. It was Moshapo's header in the 95th minute that sealed the deal, sending waves of celebration through the stadium.
Just a week later, Moshapo displayed his goal-scoring prowess when he netted a dramatic equaliser against UFS. This time, the goal came in the 92nd minute, again in the form of a header. These two crucial goals have not only made him a fan favourite but also a vital asset for NWU.
When asked about his experience in his first Varsity Football matches, Moshapo shared, "It was a thrilling experience because you are exposed to factors that may affect your performance on the ground, like a fully packed away stadium and the pressure that comes with it."
Moshapo's goal-scoring technique seems to come naturally. He explains that it is not something he plans, he is just in the right place at the right time. Before matches, he prefers to listen to music and chat with his teammates. He also follows specific patterns, believing that if a certain pattern leads to a victory, he repeats it in the following game.
Moshapo, nicknamed 'Gattuso,' was born and raised in Pretoria. He joined the NWU Soccer Institute in 2022 after earning a promotion from the university's junior team. Playing in a position often occupied by natural leaders and strong communicators, Moshapo fits the bill perfectly.
His football journey began at the age of 5, and since then, he has progressed steadily through various teams. He recounts his journey, saying, "I joined my first amateur team in 2011, which is Akasia FC based in Pretoria. I then went on to play for Mamelodi Sundowns Academy from 2014 to 2018. After that, I played for PSB FC for almost a year before joining Garankuwa United in 2019. Finally, I decided to try out for the NWU team in Mafikeng in 2020."
Moshapo's debut in the 2022 Men’s Varsity Football tournament allowed him to gain valuable experience alongside more seasoned players. He credits these senior players for helping shape him into the player he is today and preparing him for moments when the team relies on his heroics.
As Moshapo continues to make headlines with his remarkable late-game contributions, his towering presence during set pieces has become a feared threat for opponents. His ability to keep NWU in the game when a crucial goal is needed has quickly made him a standout figure in Varsity Football. Teams now know that they can never rule out the danger of a skilled centre-back like Khopotso Moshapo.
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by Phenyo Mokgothu