Cape Times

Shalulile is gunning for redemption

- Njabulo Ngidi

PETER SHALULILE is looking to reignite the dream that turned into a nightmare before he could savour the moment.

The 24-year-old, who inspired Highlands Park to gain promotion into the Absa Premiershi­p, could only watch as his team got drawn into the quicksand of relegation last season, having picked up an ankle injury during pre-season.

That injury and the operation that followed stalled Shalulile’s dream of playing top-flight football in South Africa.

By the time the Namibian striker was fit to play, the Lions of the North were already swimming against the tide and they ultimately were relegated after just one season in the elite league. Shalulile desperatel­y wants to return to the top with Highlands who are two points clear at the top of the National First Division (NFD) standings at the halfway mark.

“My man, my man,” an excited Shalulile said. “The PSL is a great platform to showcase your talent so you can go overseas. You must play there to make it out (of the country and go to play overseas). That’s why we want to go back into the PSL. It was disappoint­ing to stay just one season in the PSL. Getting a taste of something that great, competing at the highest level, and have that moment taken away from you before you can properly enjoy it was painful. We are driven to go back there and stay forever.”

Highlands have collected 30 points from 15 matches. They have scored 21 goals in the process, with 15 of those coming from Shalulile, Mothobi Mvala and Lindokuhle Mbatha who have scored five goals apiece. Highlands lead a top three made up of clubs who have played in the PSL – Jomo Cosmos and the University of Pretoria. The Lions of the North will look to keep their place at the summit until May next year. Once again Highlands’ game is built on a strong defence under coach Allan Freese.

A solid defence helped them finish second in the NFD two seasons ago, guaranteei­ng them a place in the playoffs. Highlands beat strong competitio­n from AmaTuks and Mbombela United to gain promotion. Shalulile scored the brace that helped the Tembisa have a club playing at the highest level for the first time in 14 years and he wants to bring that joy back again to Tembisa.

“This has been one of the best seasons that I have ever had,” Shalulile said. “I, Mothobi and Mbatha are the club’s joint-top goalscorer­s. It’s been great. I would like to score more than 15 goals this season and help the team gain promotion. I used to dream about playing in the PSL.

“It was surreal being there. It’s on another level. The only sad thing was that I and the club didn’t stay there long enough. I would love to go back there because it would open a lot of doors for us by giving us an opportunit­y to showcase our talent and try to be somewhere in life.”

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