Sirino to stay on at Mamelodi Sundowns after all?

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Gaston Sirino Mameodi Sundowns
The 31-year-old caused lots of problems for the opposition defence and played a big part in the opening goal in the Brazilians’ 2-1 victory

An excellent performance for Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final against Marumo Gallants from Gaston Sirino suggests the Uruguayan still has a future with Masandawana.

It wasn't just that Sirino played well and had a big influence on the final at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

It was the fact that he was named in the starting XI in the first place. And the fact that he looked happy to be part of the team once more and played with intensity and focus.

This is a player who has previously made it clear that he was keen on joining former Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane at Al Ahly in Egypt.

And with Sirino then struggling to get game-time as the likes of Neo Maema, Khuliso Mudau, Peter Shalulile and others took their chances, his time with the Pretoria club seemed to be coming to an end. That talk gained traction when Downs signed Erwin Saavedra in January in what was thought to be a like-for-like replacement for Sirino.

An injury didn't help Sirino's cause, although he did go on to enjoy some action in April and May, playing in six games, albeit he didn't complete 90 minutes in any of those matches.

That run of games suggested that the Sundowns' management was content with Sirino's attitude, application, fitness and form and that the relationship between club and player had not broken down.

Now, his selection in the Nedbank Cup final by the Brazilians' coaching trio is as close to a vote of confidence as one may get. A player who was angling with for an exit and who was unhappy about being at the club would surely not have been given the chance to start in a game of such importance, ahead of a player like Themba Zwane, for example.

With three years still to run on his contract with Sundowns, it does make sense for both club and player to patch things up.

And so it may well be that we see Sirino reuniting with Saavedra in the Sundowns attack, having previously played together at Bolivian outfit Bolivar.

This all may come as a disappointment to fans of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, some of whom would have been hopeful of their club snapping up Sirino – there had previously been speculation over those possibilities after Al Ahly seemingly went cool on the move.

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As it was, Sirino made a big impact on the final and it was his cross which led to the opening Sundowns goal scored by Peter Shalulile.

It was perhaps his lack of game-time which led to him being subbed on 64 minutes, because until then, he had arguably been Sundowns’ best player.