Justin Shonga: I have to step up and score from free-kick situations if Orlando Pirates can't score from open play

The young forward is slowly regaining the form which saw him become a Bucs favourite last season

Orlando Pirates striker Justin Shonga says the team resorts to scoring from deadball situations whenever they fail to score in open play.

The Zambian forward is slowly becoming a free-kick specialist for the Buccaneers having netted twice from set-piece situations this season. 

"It all comes from practicing at training. I practice them a lot with Jackson Mabokgwane, because the coaches always say, 'It's the last bullet in the gun'," Shonga told Vodacom Soccer.

Shonga scored against Light Stars in the first leg of the Caf Champions League preliminary rounds on Wednesday as well as against Polokwane City in a PSL match earlier this month.

"If we fail to score in open play but find even a single set-piece in a match, and we don't get two or three, then we always have to make full use of it," he continued. 

The 22-year-old marksman also hit the back of the net for Zambia from a set-piece against Guinea Bissau in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier last month.

"They [the technical team] always put everything on me. T hey have faith in me. So, I have to repay that faith [by scoring]," he added. 

Shonga, who has netted three goals in all competitions, has stated that the burden of scoring for the Sea Robbers is something that they share among themselves as players.

"I think the [responsibility of scoring] is a shared thing, because if I'm not in the right position, I have to pass to Thembinkosi Lorch or to Augustine Mulenga," he said.

"If I can't score then I have to assist, but as a striker I'm expected by the supporters to score in every game," he explained. 

Article continues below

"The coaches always tell me that, 'If you don't score, we understand. At least you assisted, or you played better, you do a lot of stuff [correctly] - you make movements according to how we want you to play now'," he continued.

"They tell me sometimes, and the supporters won't understand it, but myself and the coaches do - that I need to make such a move to create space for either Mulenga, Lorch or Thabiso Kutumela, or any of my teammates," indicated.

Pirates will host Maritzburg United in a PSL match at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.