DOWNS’ LEFT-BACK OP­TIONS

Be­sides Lyle Lakay, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosi­mane has a num­ber of op­tions at left-back, with Lakay up against Te­bogo Langer­man, Mosa Lebusa and Siyabonga Zulu for a spot in the start­ing line-up:

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TE­BOGO LANGER­MAN

Like Lyle Lakay, Te­bogo Langer­man was moved to left-back from left wing when he joined Sundowns. Since his shift in po­si­tion, Langer­man has gone on to es­tab­lish him­self as one of the coun­try’s best left-backs, play­ing a key role in Sundowns’ suc­cesses on home soil and on the con­ti­nent. The former Su­per­Sport United and Bid­vest Wits man has since fea­tured reg­u­larly for Bafana Bafana when fit. Langer­man has fought off good com­pe­ti­tion in the past from Mzikayise Mashaba and Fares Hachi, and has to do that again this sea­son fol­low­ing the ar­rival of Lakay. The 32-year-old, a player of­ten unseen in the me­dia spot­light, brings loads of ex­pe­ri­ence and can al­ways be re­lied on to de­liver in some of the big­gest games. He gets for­ward a lot and has the abil­ity to whip a num­ber of qual­ity crosses into the box for the likes of Jeremy Brockie, Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi and Jose Ali Meza to fin­ish. At 32, coach Pitso Mosi­mane knows that the ag­ing de­fender is head­ing to­wards the end of his ca­reer, so sign­ing the likes of Lakay and Zulu shows he is plan­ning for the fu­ture. Langer­man may have to start get­ting used to play­ing a lit­tle less than usual with more com­pe­ti­tion in his po­si­tion.

SIYABONGA ZULU

Signed in Jan­uary after Hachi was loaned out to Chippa United, Zulu has strug­gled to break into the team, mak­ing just three ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions in the sec­ond half of the sea­son for the former African cham­pi­ons. He was, after all, ac­quired to pro­vide cover for Langer­man. Zulu, who was first-choice at former club Plat­inum Stars, will most likely be used in

some Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge matches, with the sign­ing of Lakay mov­ing him down the peck­ing or­der. He is, how­ever, not a bad player to have as back-up be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­ence he has gained through­out his ca­reer. He has played for Bafana Bafana un­der former coach Shakes Mashaba and was part of the Dik­wena side that played in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup in 2016. The former Or­lando Pi­rates de­fender is strong in the tackle and loves get­ting for­ward when­ever the op­por­tu­nity presents it­self. At 25, the Soweto-born player still has a lot to of­fer Sundowns in fu­ture, but knows he has to be pa­tient and wait for his op­por­tu­nity to shine.

MOSA LEBUSA

Former Ajax Cape Town cap­tain Mosa Lebusa is a player Mosi­mane had been eye­ing for a while, and the coach fi­nally got his man after the Ur­ban War­riors were rel­e­gated from the Absa Premier­ship. Lebusa, like many play­ers in the Sundowns team, gives Mosi­mane the op­tion of play­ing him in two dif­fer­ent po­si­tions – in cen­tral de­fence or at left-back. Mosi­mane is likely to use him more as a left­sided cen­tral de­fender, where he’ll com­pete with Brazil­ian Ri­cardo Nasci­mento for a spot in the side, hav­ing made his de­but in the MTN8 semi-fi­nals fol­low­ing the Brazil­ian’s sus­pen­sion. Ear­lier in the sea­son, Mosi­mane said Lebusa would have to un­der­stand the sys­tem at Sundowns be­fore he can start play­ing reg­u­larly in the team. If ever Sundowns are hav­ing prob­lems at left-back, Lebusa can slot in. Hav­ing him in that po­si­tion how­ever means they are not likely to get much in terms of at­tack­ing play and crosses from the left flank as Lebusa is not as ad­ven­tur­ous and does not have the pace most full-backs pos­sess, but he does make sure he keeps things tight at the back.

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