The Incumbent: Anele Ngcongca (31 years old)
After the departure of captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele to Chiefs for a better salary, Sundowns signed two right back options in Anele Ngcongca and winger Thapelo Morena, whom Mosimane had decided to convert into a right back. The ex-Genk man’s first season at the club was a disaster as he suffered injuries and only managed six league starts. His second season continued in the same vein, until a strong end to the campaign. This season, he started strongly and was used for his defensive strength in many games ahead of Morena. However, time does seem to be running out for the exBafana Bafana defender.
The Successor: Thapelo Morena (25 years old)
Morena started 26 games in the league in his first season (20 at right back) and has played very regularly since, so he is arguably already the incumbent, but ‘Jingles’ still appears to prefer Ngcongca in the big games and in CAF competition. The latter brings extra height and experience, as well as a more conservative approach – this sees Morena either benched or used further forward as a defensive winger. With Morena still just 25 years old, he is set to make this position his own for at least the next five years.
Verdict: Sundowns have two excellent options at right back, with one a major attacking weapon and the other a strong defensive player for tougher opponents. However, when Morena is out injured (like against Wits recently), Sundowns find themselves lacking width on that flank, so it would not be a surprise to see another attacking right back arrive to provide competition to Morena. Cape Town City’s Craig Martin has been linked to the club and, if he joins, could follow a similar path in being converted from a winger into a right back.