Talented teen Bali is proving he is a real all-rounder
BALI Mumba is concentrating on becoming “an all-round player” rather than tying himself down to any one position.
In the early stages of his Sunderland career, the 17-year-old has been used as a central midfielder but on Tuesday he showed another side to his game.
Not only did Mumba play at right wing-back in the Football League Trophy win over Notts County, he was the best player on the pitch.
Mumba has played right-back for England’s age-group teams and centre-back for Sunderland’s.
Adam Matthews looks secure as the Black Cats’ first-choice rightback but, with Donald Love and Denver Hume injured, they have another option was the Welshman to be unavailable.
For Mumba, it is just about getting as much time on the pitch as possible while he learns his game.
When asked what his best position was, he replied: “Many people have asked me that and I don’t have an answer.
“I am just an all-round player, I would say - midfield, full-back, I am not really too fussed as long as I gain the experience.
“I want to be a player who is able to play in different positions.
“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, not worrying about it not being my position, just to have that mindset of ‘this is my job.’”
Manager Jack Ross explained Mumba’s position in the 2-0 win over Notts County was more about just having as many of those who needed game time on the field for as long as possible.
He said: “It just allowed him to experience what it is like to play another first-team game.
“He did it for England Under-18s and when he was younger.
“There were loads of different reasons for doing it the other night - it fitted with the personnel we had available, he was capable of playing that role and then it was just ganing him experience of playing it there.
“You just don’t know what lies ahead and the great thing for me as a manager is every time the players have had an opportunity to say, ‘Yeah, I can do that,’ they have not really let me down.
“As a manager that helps me moving forward when the squad might be stretched.”
Another aspect Mumba wants to add to his game is goalscoring and he missed out on a first senior goal when his shot was blocked late in Tuesday’s 2-0 win.
He added: “I was gutted about that but it is coming. 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.
“Definitely next time I believe it will be different.”
With George Honeyman expected to return from injury, Mumba was likely to find himself back on the bench for this afternoon’s League One trip to Accrington Stanley - but he is highly-rated by Ross and clearly has a big future at the Stadium of Light.