Mamelodi Sundowns bourgeoning midfield star Sphelele Mkhulise has his coach Pitso Mosimane wishing he had unleashed him sooner.
Mkhulise, the Sundowns Academy graduate, has been impressive so far this season with superb displays.
His work rate, creativity and dribbling ability have him growing in stature with every match. Whenever Mosimane has called upon the youngster, ironically nicknamed ‘Pitso’, the 23-year-old has delivered solid performances.
On Saturday night, Mkhulise scored one in the 3-0 win over Petro de Luanda in his CAF Champions League debut at Loftus Stadium.
“He reminds me how Percy (Tau) came up, nice and easy. You know me I am a conservative coach. Probably I have kept him a little bit longer and you know even with (Bongani) Zungu, I said one more year. Even with Keagan (Dolly) and Percy I said one more year. Why? Because I am conservative. I just want more surety.
“With ‘Pitso’ (Mkhulise), maybe I have delayed him a little bit but you have got to understand that last year he was competing with Lebo (Maboe), who was top scorer. Gaston (Sirino) was there, Mshishi (Themba Zwane) was there. There was no easy space. (Anthony) Laffor was part of the programme also,” stated Mosimane.
Mkhulise, whose goal followed a superb combination with Sirino, has featured prominently in recent matches.
With Zwane absent, Mkhulise, though not the same quality as the playmaker, has stepped up. Mosimane wants to see the lad from Pietermaritzburg mixing it with his big stars.
“It’s the time now – good player. He can lose the ball a little sometimes. He is a happy boy. You can see he is young and fearless. He enjoys himself.
“You have got to let that go. If you are going to tell him, he loses the ball a lot then you are going to put him in a cage again. So I want to release him to do what he wants and then I can show the mistakes after. He links up well with Gaston, same way Themba links up with Gaston. It will be good to have all those three on the pitch. It is creativity more than effort,” said Mosimane.
Mosimane and his men have a tough encounter awaiting them against Waydad Casablanca in Morocco in their second Group C match on Saturday.
“We leave on Monday arriving on Tuesday. Tuesday is a day off. We start training Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is match day minus one. It’s three days training. You know we must go to Europe to come back to Africa!
“That’s the story because there’s no direct flight from SA to Morocco,” said Jingles.
By Hosea Ramphekwa