Mr Ver­sa­tile Mumba is happy to de­velop his all-round game

BLACK CATS FO­CUS

Sunderland Echo - - Sport - By Joe Nicholson [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @Joe_Ni­chol­son96

When the team sheet was re­leased ahead of Sun­der­land’s Check­a­trade Tro­phy clash against Notts County, there was some con­fu­sion as to how the Black Cats would line up.

Boss Jack Ross has al­tered be­tween dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions this cam­paign, but with only one recognised full-back in the start­ing XI, Bryan Oviedo, it wasn’t clear who would oc­cupy the op­po­site flank - in a back three or a back four.

When the game kicked off, it quickly be­came clear that 17-year-old Bali Mumba had been cho­sen to op­er­ate as a right wing-back in a 3-52 for­ma­tion.

The Black Cats teenager has im­pressed many with the ma­tu­rity he’s shown both on and off the pitch this sea­son, after mak­ing his first-team de­but on the fi­nal day of last sea­son.

Most of Mumba’s per­for­mances in a red and white shirt, for the first team and the un­der-23s side, have come in the cen­tre of mid­field, but, as Ross pointed out, Mumba has op­er­ated at full-back on in­ter­na­tional duty with Eng­land Un­der-18s.

The Notts County game pro­vided a stern test for Mumba, who came face to face with 31-year-old de­fender Dan Jones.

But after tak­ing a few hits in the first 45 min­utes, the Sun­der­land man grew in con­fi­dence and looked a more nat­u­ral fit in the sec­ond half.

“It was tough for me out there. (In the) first half par­tic­u­larly it took me a while to get into it,” said Mumba after the game.

“I knew I had to do bet­ter, that’s why in the sec­ond half I came out with more con­fi­dence, I got at them more rather than sit­ting back.

“I was play­ing high up the pitch and that’s what I liked. That gave me the strength to get on the ball.

“It was tough out there but I thought I dealt with it well, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half.”

Mumba adapted to the role so well that he even had an op­por­tu­nity to score a third goal for Sun­der­land late on but was de­nied by goal­keeper Ross Fitzsi­mons.

“I’m gut­ted about that but it’s com­ing,” said Mumba when asked if he thought he was go­ing to score.

“I be­lieve that, I have faith. I just need to keep push­ing and I know my time will come. I just need to keep work­ing hard and see what hap­pens.

“I thought if I went with my left foot the de­fender was com­ing in hard but I need to watch it again to see what de­ci­sion I could have made.

“Def­i­nitely next time I be­lieve it will be dif­fer­ent.”

So how does Mumba feel about play­ing as a full-back when his game ap­pears suited to cen­tral mid­field?

At the mo­ment, the teenager is just happy just to be play­ing and isn’t set on one par­tic­u­lar po­si­tion.

“That’s a dif­fi­cult one,” said Mumba when asked about his favourite po­si­tion.

“Many peo­ple have asked me that and I don’t have an an­swer. I’m just an all-round player, I would say – mid­field, full-back, I’m not re­ally too fussed as long as I get the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I want to be a player who’s able to play in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions be all round.

“If the gaffer gives me a task to do, I just want to be able to do it for the team and get on with it, don’t worry about it’s not my po­si­tion, just have that mind­set of this is my job.”

Bali Mumba in ac­tion in the Chack­a­trade Tro­phy win against Notts County.

Jack Ross.

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