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Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mokwena lauds ‘young boy’ Mailula for covering for Shalulile’s absence

15:54 GMT+3 30/10/2022
Cassius Mailula & Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns, October 2022
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Sundowns says Cassius Mailula performing well is not just good for Masandawana but South African football at large.
  • Downs have four experienced strikers injured
  • That means more responsibility for Mailula
  • But the youngster has stepped in well

WHAT HAPPENED? Mailula has established himself as a key Sundowns player in recent games as their squad is hit by injuries upfront. Established forwards like Peter Shalulile, Abubeker Nasir, Gift Motupa and Thabiso Kutumela are all nursing injuries, leaving Mailula with the heavy responsibility of leading the team upfront. He has grabbed the opportunity and struck a hat-trick in the 8-1 Caf Champions League win over La Passe. The 21-year-old then scored a brace in last week’s Premier Soccer League clash with Maritzburg United, before being on the scoresheet again and providing an assist against Royal AM on Saturday.

WHAT THEY SAID: “He’s doing exceptionally well in a very difficult moment for us,” said Mokwena as per iDiski Times. “You are talking about players that are missing, but we are missing almost our entire frontline. To play a young boy like Cassius and give him the opportunities that he’s getting, augurs well not just for Sundowns, but for South African football and long may it continue.

“With a lot of humility, with a lot of good support around him, feet on the ground to continue to work hard, there’s a lot of potential. Cassius is very good on his left and also on his right. His build-up play is not so good. We get to him but then we don’t develop attacks, so we have to work on that. His movements sometimes are quite rushed or too late, but that will come right with a bit of experience.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sundowns have often shown depth in their squad. Even the absence of key players usually does not handicap them in crucial games. Mailula’s top form in the league came just as Mokwena was appointed Sundowns head coach.

STORY IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR MAILULA? Mailula has a task to prove that his recent performances are not by chance. Even when injured forwards are back, Mailula would want to maintain his place in the team.