Sport / Phakaaathi / Local Soccer

Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football Writer
3 minute read
7 Dec 2018
11:12 am

Sono Jr has a lot to live up to

Sibongiseni Gumbi

Matsilele Sono Junior carries arguably the greatest name in South African football on his back and knows that whatever he does on the field will always be compared to what his father, Jomo Sono, did in his heyday at Orlando Pirates.

Matsilele Sono of Jomo Cosmos (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

His father was given the nickname the “Black Prince of Football” because of his prowess and ability to do whatever he liked with a ball, which earned him his legendary status. Pirates even retired the No 10 shirt in his honour.

“Obviously there is always pressure, but I have never taken it to account. I always try to be the best player I can be. There is not really a lot of pressure because he never tells me this is the standard I need to be at. It is more about me playing football. Whether it is fair or not that people compare me to my father is not for me to judge because everyone is entitled to their opinion,” said Sono Junior.

He said he doesn’t believe anyone in the family could ever live up to his father’s achievements because he set the bar too high. Matsilele is the youngest and Sono senior has previously mentioned that he is the better of his two sons (Jomo Sono’s other son, Bamuza Sono,was also a professional footballer), but Matsilele doesn’t think he can fill his dad’s boots at Pirates.

“I feel Jomo was the last to represent us at Pirates … he set the bar quite high. I don’t think there will be another Sono there because Cosmos is now our home. I don’t think we are ever going to see a player like him for a very long time in South Africa, he was the best. For me to try and reach those heights, I feel I would be doing myself an injustice.”

His cousin Rhulani Mokoena is the only one representing the Sono family at Bucs in recent years, as an assistant coach and Matsilele said they are happy for him and always encourage him.

“That is always good, as a family we never hold each other back and always praise those who are doing well for themselves and for him to put himself on the map like that you have to give him credit,” he said.

Matsilele said his father runs his team the same way clubs in the Absa Premiership do, and they have never felt like a National First Division team.

“How we feel and how we train … when Jomo prepares his team it is never for the NFD but it is like we are a Premiership team. We always get the feeling that we belong in the Premiership, that is why we are fighting to get back there and get our names back on the footballing map,” he said.

While Matsilele would like to play a season or two in the Premiership, his father has always encouraged him to aim higher.

“He has always spoken to me and told me that when things open up, then he would allow me to leave. I don’t think he has ever wanted me to play locally. He has always tried for an overseas move for me,” said the 26-year-old. But, is that also his dream or would he rather join a team in the Premiership?

“I have also always seen myself playing overseas, but right now if I can play for a season or two in the Premiership I would be happy because the standard has grown and the exposure is better,” he said. “But not with another team, no, I don’t see it. But if one were to approach and he is happy and I am happy as well, then why not?” he added.

Matsilele said he is hopeful Ezenkosi will mount a serious challenge for promotion this season as the team are united and fighting for each other.

“We play more like a team this season. We have a lot of unity and our offensive play is one of the quickest in my time at Cosmos. Our attack is doing well and I think that will make the difference.”


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