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Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns

Who should make way for returnee Sirino at Mamelodi Sundowns?

13:04 SAST 2020/08/14
Gaston Sirino of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Geraldo of Al Ahly, March 2020
The 29-year-old recently signed a new long-term deal with the Brazilians and he has to play but at who's expense?

Mamelodi Sundowns have more attacking options available to them for the Highlands Park match on Friday with the return of Gaston Sirino from suspension. 

The Uruguayan attacker was slapped with a two-match ban after being found guilty of assaulting both Clayton Daniels and Dean Furman in September 2019. 

He was absent in the Sundowns 3-2 Nedbank Cup semi-final win over Bidvest Wits last weekend and again missed the league match against Orlando Pirates in midweek. 

And with him set to return, the main question is who will Pitso Mosimane sacrifice for Sirino in the attacking third? 

The Brazilians were not quite convincing in the attacking third in the two matches - and Sirino's absence was felt as Mosimane's men struggled with combinations upfront. 

Sirino, with his speed, trickery, an eye for goal and ability to create goalscoring chances for teammates, is certainly a player Mosimane will look to bring back and kill off the games for Sundowns.

The players Mosimane fielded in the two encounters did fairly well considering the circumstances but even Themba Zwane wasn't as effective as the country has come to know him. 

He needed someone to combine with as Sundowns looked more worried about overloading the midfield in an attempt to protect his defence and stop the opponents from playing. 

Keletso Makgalwa, Sphelele Mkhulise, Lebohang Maboe and Sibusiso Vilakazi all played against both Wits and Pirates and if Mosimane is to bring Sirino back and throw him straight into the starting line-up then one of the abovementioned players should make way.

Maboe has already been shifted to the right-back position from the previous game and while it may be a good idea to keep him there for a while, the technical team knows his strength is in attacking rather than defending. 

And, therefore, with that in mind, he may be sacrificed for the Highlands Park game, more so because Sundowns still have Nicholus Lukhubeni as an option on the right-hand side of the defence. 

It's common knowledge that while Maboe is a quality player with some silky touches and goals in him, he has struggled for form this season - and the majority of Sundowns fans have called for Mosimane to drop him 

Others would perhaps suggest that Mosimane utilise more experienced players at this crucial stage of the season but that wouldn't be a good idea. 

The younger players - Mkhulise, Makgalwa and Mkhulise - have shown so much maturity in the final third and have given opponents a torrid time despite their inexperience. 

It would, therefore, be wise to keep them on the pitch to help unsettle opposition defences for the remainder of the season while the senior players continue to play their role in finishing those opportunities and giving guidance to the younger ones. 

The fact that Sundowns didn't lose any of the matches so far since the return of football shouldn't make fans believe that Sirino isn't needed. 

After all, this is a player who has contributed 11 goals and seven assists in 32 matches this season - and leaving him out while trying to get him back to full fitness and on par with the rest of the team.