If Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were watching Mamelodi Sundowns’ 3-2 victory over Richards Bay on Tuesday evening, they may surely have questioned whether it was an error not to make a transfer deadline day swoop for Lesedi Kapinga.
Opportunity knocked for both of the Soweto big boys last week when, ahead of the transfer window slamming shut, it became apparent that Kapinga might be available.
According to reports in the local media, the wideman was unhappy with his bit-part role at Sundowns—he’d played just five times all season—and was keen to change his fortunes amidst limited opportunities under Rhulani Mokwena.
Whether his discontent was true or not, it’s clear that the 27-year-old has been underused this term, as he finds himself spending some of his key years as a peripheral figure at Downs.
It clearly wasn’t a sustainable situation for a player who’s proved how much he can offer while at Black Leopards, and really ought to be pushing for international consideration.BackpagePix
Against Richards Bay—to the delight of Sundowns supporters—Kapinga was given a rare opportunity to impress, and promptly demonstrated to Mokwena why he ought to feature more regularly for the Brazilians.
He appeared sharp and in excellent condition—perhaps surprising considering his lack of activity recently—and was arguably Downs’ Man of the Match with a stunning showing.
Kapinga was veritably overflowing with creativity, and set up two assists for Peter Shalulile, with whom he appeared to enjoy a near-telepathic understanding.
Admittedly, Richards Bay were accommodating, but Kapinga’s technical prowess, inventiveness, and ability to execute difficult passes to change the complexion of Sundowns’ attack were striking…and ought to be very worrying for the teams the Pretoria giants still have to face this season.
Critically, as well, his outing was a reminder to Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs of just what they have missed out on.
Both Soweto giants are floundering in Sundowns’ wake so far this season, with the duo firmly out of the title race and attempting to battle much smaller sides just to secure a continental berth for next season.
Kapinga—as we saw against Richards Bay—provides exactly the kind of x-factor that can make a difference in a tight and cagey contest; would Mokwena’s side have won this one, for example, without him?
His footwork and flair would have made him darling to supporters of either of the Soweto giants, and Kapinga has the potential to have been a truly talismanic figure for the fallen giants of South African soccer.
An opportunity missed for both, and expect more magic from Kapinga as Sundowns compete on multiple fronts.