- South African Oscarine Masuluke earns rare goalkeeper Puskas nomination
- * * Masuluke "still can't believe" implausible injury-time overhead equaliser
- * * FIFA legends give their seal of approval
Some stories are so incredible that they should really only appear in the pages of a football comic.
A typical strip might look like this: the home team is trailing 1-0 in the sixth minute of stoppage time – and there is only time for one more corner. The hosts’ goalkeeper ventures up into the opposition penalty area in one final act of desperation, his eye-catching purple kit providing a flash of colour among the assembled outfield players.
The ball is punched away by the visiting keeper and pops up again 14 metres away from goal, only for the man in mauve to unleash a bicycle kick that loops over his opposite number and two defenders into the back of the net. The result? Epic celebrations and a 1-1 scoreline at the final whistle.
It is the kind of tale you might read in *Roy of the Rovers *or *Captain Tsubasa *while smirking and thinking: “Cool, but it’s a little far-fetched…”
Yet this was exactly what happened in a South African Premiership match on 30 November 2016, when Baroka FC custodian Oscarine Masuluke fired such an exact overhead kick past his Orlando Pirates counterpart Thapelo Mabokgwane.
If you had simulated the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup™ between two footballing heavyweights in FIFA 14 and ended up with a 7-1 win over the record world champions on their home turf, the programmers would have laughed at such madness. A few months later, nobody was laughing anymore. It just goes to show that the beautiful game’s best stories are the ones that happen in real life
"I just tried it; only God knows how he made it possible for me to score that goal today,” Masuluke said immediately after the match. A day later, he was still “shocked” by what happened against Orlando, saying “I still can’t believe it”.
Having spent the past few months trying to work out how he was able to produce such an incredible strike, the 24-year-old turned to his footballing past for answers, explaining: “I used to play as a striker.” When asked if he scored many goals like that in those days, he replied: “No, that’s the best goal of my career."
Masuluke is delighted to be nominated for the FIFA Puskàs Award 2017 and has urged all South Africans to vote him onto the final three-person shortlist that will attend the Awards Show in London on 23 October. "Having said that, it’s just fantastic to be nominated at all," he said.
The Baroka goalkeeper already has the backing of two FIFA legends. Jay-Jay Okocha, for his part, said: “My vote goes to the goalkeeper [Oscarine Masuluke], because it’s so rare to see something like that. Goals by goalkeepers are already very unusual, and last-minute bicycle kicks are too. I think it really was something very special.” Roberto Di Matteo was also impressed, saying: “I really liked the strike by the goalkeeper [Oscarine Masuluke] – and the celebrations afterwards were pretty unique too!”
We may yet be treated to another special celebration if Masuluke gets his hands on the award.