Lady Luck favours small fry’s dream

Garry Mendes Rodrigues used skill and a bit of luck to keep Cape Verde’s World Cup hopes alive. (Bagu Blanco/DPPI)

Garry Mendes Rodrigues used skill and a bit of luck to keep Cape Verde’s World Cup hopes alive. (Bagu Blanco/DPPI)


Ironically, Tuesday’s loudest statement induced its most deafening silence. The few who had braved a trip to the Moses Mabhida Stadium sat stunned as Garry Rodrigues thumped lowly Cape Verde into a 2-0 lead against Bafana Bafana.

The winger’s second strike, a vicious cut-in drive from the left, all but sealed the World Cup qualifier — Andile Jali’s introduction not enough to prevent the 2-1 final scoreline.

In many ways the pattern of the game proved the old adage that a little bit of skill or luck is required to win tight games.
Rodrigues used a healthy dose of both to break the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Morgan Gould conceded a free-kick in a dangerous area before the Galatasaray man stepped up to the plate to hammer the ball past the despairing, wrong-footed Wayne Sandilands.

“I try every training and I train hard for this and today it was my luck‚” he said of his first goal. “It was a good day for me and for our team. It was perfect.”

Thanks to his heroics, the tiny West African island have been left to dream about an improbable-sounding World Cup birth. A fantasy which Rodrigues himself embraces.

“It is the dream of every footballer to go to the World Cup. It’s the biggest tournament in the world.”

Cape Verde first appeared in a major international tournament only four years ago — the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

“I dream about that and, for me‚ nothing is impossible. Our dream continues and in two months we’ll see. If we work hard and if we believe … it’s like that.”

Anything is indeed possible, especially given that no team has truly taken command of the tight qualifying group. The Blue Sharks will have to rely on Senegal not getting the better of Bafana at the second time of asking, however, after their November match was ordered to be replayed.

Back at his day job, Rodrigues will be looking to use this performance as a springboard to string together a decent run in the Galatasaray first team. He only managed 16 league appearances last term as the Turkish giants slumped to a fourth-placed finish.

For now though, thanks to his international endeavours, he stands tall as this week’s Real Makoya.

Luke Feltham