A desperately-needed late winner for Orlando Pirates against Jomo Cosmos at a delirious Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday has got Buccaneers fans scratching their heads. Just who is this super-sub Tokela Wayne Rantie they were asking from Port Elizabeth to Soweto.
Making just his second appearance, the 21-year-old looked compact, dangerous – and dare we say it – not unlike a young Benni McCarthy as he snatched all three points off Jomo’s rock bottom Ezenkosi.
Ironically the young man from Parys in the Orange Free State – the Afrikaans version of Paris on the banks of the Vaal has its own mini-Eiffel Tower but little in the way of footballing history - may yet get to play alongside the 33-year-old McCarthy, currently hamstrung and out of the Pirates line-up.
But for those mystified by the maturity of Rantie’s 12-minute cameo as a substitute on Sunday, there is a history, suggesting the real possibility that Julio Leal may have unearthed a real nugget. The manner of his winner – cool control on a long ball from captain Lucky Lekgwathi, easing past the defender to ram the ball beyond bemused Cosmos goalkeeper Avril Phali – suggests there’s plenty more to come.
After his heroics which led to wild celebrations from under-pressure Brazilian boss Leal, the “unknown Buccaneer” grinned: “I really don’t have much to say! I was just sitting on the bench, analysing the weaknesses of their defence, when the boss put me on.
“I came on when there was a lot of pressure. It was 1-1 and could’ve gone either way. It was a matter of taking that information I had gathered and then putting it in to practice, which I did.”
Rantie has played for Ferroviario de Beira and Clube Desporto de Maxaquene (there’s video of him in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY-QPzHh9uI) in Mozambique and spent time with Swedish club IFK Hässleholm before arriving at Orlando on a season-long loan after scoring twice for the Stars of Africa Academy in a 3-2 friendly defeat against the Buccaneers.
Farouk Khan, the man behind the Stars of Africa outfit which discovered Rantie and re-established his credentials after he left Sweden following work permit problems, says: "Rantie will come in handy for Pirates when it comes to scoring goals, Tokelo is a great player and I think he will also add value to the Under-23 national side and Bafana Bafana when they see him."
Rantie may lack the reputation and hairstyle offered by Bongani Ndulula and the more established Pirates strikers but come Wednesday night’s Premier League clash and the Telkom Knock-Out quarter-final three days later – both against the reviving Moroka Swallows - he may just get the chance to prove his worth with McCarthy and Thulasizwe Mbuyane both doubtful.
For now though, he lives with the memory of that first Pirates strike: “It still feels like a dream. I don’t know how to explain it. Just amazing.”