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:
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.
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.
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.