Moffat Mungazi-Sports Correspondent
MUTARE-BORN goalkeeper, Washington Arubi is eyeing a golden conclusion to the South African Premiership season by helping his team Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) survive relegation as well as win the Nedbank Cup final.
Although the top-flight league novices have endured an indifferent run in the league campaign, they have a chance of clinching cup honours when they square off against fellow strugglers, Chippa United in tomorrow’s (Saturday) decider of the knockout tournament.
It is a surprise battle of the underdogs.
As one of the stars of the show on TTM’s road to the final, a lot will be expected from the seasoned shot-stopper. Arubi proved his pedigree by foiling Sundowns’ attacks with a man-of-the-match performance as his side eliminated the defending champions at the semi-finals hurdle.
Aiming to kill two birds with one stone, the Limpopo-based side is also fighting for their life in the league.
Preserving their Premiership status has become their primary priority. The debutants blew some wind into their sail to safety from relegation zone with a crucial 2-1 victory over stuttering giants Kaizer chiefs on Tuesday evening.
Arubi kept goals for TTM, while former Warriors captain, Willard Katsande came from the bench and played the last quarter-of-an-hour for Amakhosi.
The former national team goalie faces ex-La Sakubva teammate, Onismor Bhasera’s SuperSport United next Wednesday as their quest to stay up continues.
And Arubi reckons their maiden voyage in the top-tier division can only be deemed successful if they duck the chop. Scooping silverware will come as a bonus.
The experienced goalminder shared with Post Sport his individual as well as the team’s goals for the remainder of the campaign.
“It is good to be in the Nedbank Cup final because it presents us with an opportunity to win a trophy this term. The bigger objective, however, remains avoiding demotion from the Premiership. On the other hand, we also have to prepare well for this weekend’s final against Chippa United, who are a good side. It would be a very good return by any standards for us if we survive relegation and be champions of the knockout tournament.
“I am encouraged by the progress we have made so far as a club and we can still turn our season around and finish in a respectable position in the league marathon. There are positive signs we can achieve our targets. The dream is still alive and we have to keep pushing harder. We keep telling ourselves we can pull this off,” said the former Dynamos and Highlanders number one in an interview from his Limpopo base on Wednesday.
He added that they will go for the jugular in making the most of the reminder of their league fixtures. Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila sit third from bottom on 25 points from as many games. They have five rounds of matches left to play.
Arubi also acknowledged the huge impact made by new club owner and chairman, Abram Sello since his acquisition of the club.
“Credit goes to everyone at the club for continuing to work hard as we pursue our objectives. The club chairman has brought a new dimension to the club and it is bearing fruit.
“With his vision, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila are on a good path and taking the right direction. We are in this together as a team and believe we can meet our season’s targets,” he said.
After declaring to this publication late last year that he was out to help establish his team as a competitive force challenging for honours, the Sakubva-bred star should be delighted with his contribution to that cause.
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila are likely to bank on Arubi’s experience in the remaining games as they chase glory on two fronts in their debut outing in the elite league. And as one of the club captains, the talented goalie is set to deliver if his scintillating form over the course of the season is anything to go by.
A double toast of celebrations is in the offing.