When own goal ogres become our heroes

Johannesburg – It is unfortunate for players to score an own goal, but it turns sweeter when they atone for their mistake.

Whether it is making amends for an earlier error or cancelling out good work that had already been done, players sometimes find themselves on both sides of the scoresheet at some point in their careers.

Former Orlando Pirates defender and captain Lucky Lekgwathi knows all too well what goes on in the mind of a player who has just scored an own goal.

Having been in this situation before, when playing against Zimbabwean club Dynamos, Lekgwathi confessed: “You feel like the world is ending.”

Lekgwathi was speaking in the wake of Pirates defender Ntsikelelo Nyauza’s own goal against AmaZulu last weekend.

The now-retired former captain said he was proud of players who went from being villains to heroes by making up for their own goals in the same game.

“It’s never easy because a lot goes on in your mind. You feel like you’ve let your team-mates, the club and the supporters down. That’s when you need their support most. But if you are not mentally strong, it is not easy to come back from this setback,” Lekgwathi said.

Last week, Nyauza became the latest player in the Premier Soccer League to score past his own goalkeeper when he netted for AmaZulu in a league game.

However, the Pirates defender redeemed himself and netted at the other end during the same game – scoring the maiden brace of his career. Lekgwathi said that after scoring an own goal, a player becomes more motivated to atone for his mistake.

“You double your efforts because you want to make up for it. But you can end up committing more errors if you try too much.”

Nyauza joined the growing, strange list of those who have scored for both teams in one game.

Like Nyauza, Siyanda Xulu made the list two seasons ago when he netted for Maritzburg United against his club Kaizer Chiefs. He made up for it later by scoring for the club that was paying his salary.

Nyauza similarly spared himself some embarrassment when he found the back of the net – on the right end of the pitch this time – to lift the heavy burden of his own goal off his shoulders.

In September, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford atoned for his error when he netted for England against Slovakia after putting the ball in his own net earlier in the game, which was a World Cup qualifier.

Two seasons ago, former Chelsea captain John Terry went from zero to hero by rescuing a dramatic point for the Blues against Everton.

Terry made up for scoring an own goal by back-heeling in the equaliser in the eighth minute of added time.

Lekgwathi said there was nothing quite like making up for a mistake.

“So many things go through your mind, but there is no feeling like the one when you score at the right end.”

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