Brazilians in a league of their own
In what was otherwise a pretty evenly-balanced game, it was Downs’ superior quality in front of goal – Shalulile in particular, who made the difference as the Namibian netted both goals in the 2-0 win.
For any team to challenge for the league title, a reliable goal poacher is needed. Sundowns have that in Shalulile, and have plenty of backup too with Thabiso Kutumela, Kermit Erasmus, Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino, among several others.
Simply put, Pirates can’t match the Masandawana goal-scoring department. And for that matter, neither can any other team in South Africa.And having not conceded a single goal in five league outings, the Pretoria club are watertight at the back. It already seems a case of which club will claim second spot this season and secure Champions league football for the next season, because it’s tough to see anyone stopping the Sundowns train.
High expectations on young shoulders?With a lack of real firepower in the team, more and more is being expected of Tshegofatso Mabasa. Only recently back from injury, Mabasa was this week included in the Bafana Bafana squad. He's certainly a striker full of promise and with an excellent track record. But he seems susceptible to injury, and at 24-years-old perhaps still lacks the mental fortitude to shoulder the goal scoring responsibilities nearly single handedly at one of the country's biggest clubs.
Lorch missed, Mhango a concernIt always helps to have wingers and attacking midfield chipping in and the long-term injury to Thembinkosi Lorch has taken away one such option. The drop in form and goal drought Gabadinho Mhango is suffering must be another concern. The injury to Zakhele Lepasa has not helped either.
It’s not easy to find a proper striker these days, but then again, Pirates have a bigger budget than most PSL clubs and most on the continent. But recent recruits in that position have not yielded goals – the likes of Jean Marc Mundele Makusu, Terrence Dzvukamanja for example. More recently, they signed Kwame Peprah, but he hasn’t been trusted with much game-time and is just 20-years-old, as well as Monnapule Saleng, who was immediately loaned out to PSL rivals Swallows FC.
Whatever the various reasons, that’s a lot of signings and money spent without many goals in return.
The ones that got away
Pirates have been happy to release a number of strikers over the past few years. These include Ndumiso Mabena, who went on to do very well for Bloemfontein Celtic.
It also includes Thabiso Kutumela, who is settling in at Sundowns very nicely and whose moment of magic proved decisive against Bucs as he set up Shalulile's first goal on Saturday.
It also includes Thamsanqa Gabuza, who scored on Saturday in SuperSport's win over Maritzburg United. As well as Luvuyo Memela and Augustine Mulenga, who both excelled with goals and assists for AmaZulu last season.
If the situation persists, Pirates made look to bring in another striker in the January transfer window. In terms of regular PSL goal scorers, there are not many. Looking at last season's top scorer's list, the likes of Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Fagrie Lakay (Cape Town City), Victor Letsoalo (then Bloemfontein Celtic and now Royal AM) and Ruzaigh Gamildien (Swallows FC) stand out.
Bucs have also been linked with Baroka marksman Evidence Makgopa, who is now in the Bafana squad, but remains raw and unproven.