Left centre back
The Incumbent: Ricardo Nascimento (31 years old)
Since the departure of Alje Schut, Mosimane has been looking for a replacement for the Dutchman – a leftfooted central defender to give balance to the side. Nascimento arrived, and despite not possessing pace, his outstanding reading of the game and ball-playing ability have seen him excel in Sundowns’ system. He recently signed a new three-year contract, so is far from finished, but he will still need resting and competition to keep him on his toes and refreshed.
The Successor: Mosa Lebusa (26 years old)
In Downs’ system, it is a key belief of the coach to have a left-footed left centre back. For that reason, Lebusa was bought from Ajax and moved permanently from fullback to a central role, as mentioned by Pitso after Lebusa’s debut against Cape Town City:
“When he arrived, I said I wanted him as a left centre-back. I think he is good. Muhsin Ertugral, Ajax coach, played with three centre-backs, and I was not happy that he came to me from that kind of system, because I need four at the back, not five. I made him do a lot of match analysis on Nascimento, and asked him to tell me where Nascimento went right or wrong – that’s the training he now does at Sundowns.”
Verdict: The Tshwane giants now have two great options for one position. The drawback of this situation is that Lebusa will have to displace Nascimento to get into the side, because they are unlikely to play together much – a clear sign of that is when Thapelo Morena got injured in the warm-up against Wits and Madisha had to move to right back. It was Arendse who came in from the stands (not the matchday squad) to partner Nascimento, ahead of Lebusa, who had originally been on the bench. Two left-footed centre-backs together is a very rare sight. time before Lakay makes this position his own, especially with Langerman getting on in years and starting to suffer some indifferent form. The fullbacks provide the width in Downs’ game model and Lakay suits this role absolutely perfectly.