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July 17, 2024
Kopo: Appollis Almost Called It A Quit

Seeing Oswin Appollis shine as one of the stars of the show as Bafana Bafana triumphed over Zimbabwe 3-1 in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers triggers special memories for coach Kwanele Kopo.

Kopo recounted how Appollis, after 18 months without a club, considered quitting football and exploring other job opportunities in Cape Town.

The Chippa United co-coach played a pivotal role in reviving Appollis’ career after he was released by SuperSport United.

Kopo signed Appollis for Pretoria Callies ahead of the 2022/23 season, and the player thrived. Polokwane City then secured his services for the 2023/24 season.

The 22-year-old impressed in his time at Rise and Shine this past season, featuring in 31 matches across all competitions and contributing seven goals and five assists.

Appollis’ delightful pass set up Thapelo Morena’s second goal, Bafana Bafana’s third, dismantling Zimbabwe’s high defensive line. The Mamelodi Sundowns attacker capitalized brilliantly, rounding the goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the empty net.

“Witnessing his assist, it just gives me goosebumps,” Kopo told Sportswire, having previously worked with Appollis during his development days at SuperSport United.

“There are many more talented youngsters lost in the system. I encountered Oswin at Ajax Cape Town (now Cape Town Spurs) and again at SuperSport United. That’s why I really had to fight to convince him to join Callies and revive his career,” Kopo explained.

“So, seeing him excel for Bafana Bafana was an emotional trigger. It’s always a powerful feeling to witness players I’ve worked with reach the highest level and perform well.

“I believe there’s more in store for this young man. He’s still developing and has missed out on opportunities. I hope he can maintain this level of performance for the national team.”

While Appollis was overlooked by clubs in Cape Town, Kopo’s convincing phone call proved crucial. Kopo knew Callies couldn’t match Appollis’ previous salary at SuperSport.

“He was very demotivated,” Kopo revealed.

“I believe my call came at the perfect moment. When I spoke to him, I could sense his discouragement. It was baffling why Cape Town teams weren’t interested. He even told me, ‘Coach, I’ve considered giving up because nothing seems to be working out.'”

“We had a conversation, and I told him, ‘The situation I’m offering won’t provide the same income you had at SuperSport. But with your potential, I believe I can help you reach your desired level.'”

“I encouraged him that he will be back for the Under-23 level and play in the PSL. When he arrived in Pretoria, he was overweight, clearly indicating a long period without playing. But we have to commend him for his dedication during those difficult 18 months. With no club, no football, and no offers, he put in the hard work to make a comeback.”

“He committed to the training program, and within a few months, he was back playing for the U-23s. I believe that reignited his passion for the game. And I think having someone he previously worked with instilled the belief that his career wasn’t over. The thought of giving up, he did say to me that ‘I was going to sit at home and go and look for a job’.”         

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Robin-Duke Madlala

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