After his Man of the Match performance against SC Braga on Sunday night KZN Academy graduate Sphephelo ‘Yaya’ Sithole is FARPost’s player of the weekend.
It was the midfielder’s first league start for the Lisbon-based side since his arrival in January 2019, but he had made his senior debut last season.
He came off the bench in a game against the same opposition towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign. Sithole started in the middle of the park alongside the more experienced Bruno Ramires as they controlled the midfield against the likes of Andre Castro and Ali Elmusrati who have played at the highest level in Europe.
Both teams started the game with positive intentions and created a couple of opportunities especially Joao Paulo Dias Fernandes (known as Paulinho) who broke the opponent’s defensive line a few times, but goalkeeper Andre Moreira stood tall between the posts for the hosts.
After 33 minutes Belenenses took the lead after a well floated pass into the box by South African Thibang ‘Cafu’ Phete found an unmarked Miguel Cardoso who made no mistake from close range.
Just before the break the Lisbon-based side was 2-0 up thanks to a fine individual effort by Afonso Sousa who danced around the defence before curling the ball into the far post to put Belenenses in the driving seat going to the interval.
The second half was dominated by the visitors who were looking for an equalizer, Moreira was the big difference for the hosts going into the hour mark.
A red card to David Carmo in the 62nd minute was a big blow for Braga as it slowed down their momentum. A few minutes later Belenenses captain Silvestre Varela was unfortunate to give away a penalty after failing to control the ball in the box and tried to tackle a Braga player for position, but arrived late.
Moreira saved the initial penalty from Paulinho, but the referee ordered a re-take and Paulinho made no mistake.
Belenenses earned all three points at the end of additional time and the 21-year-old applied himself to the maximum on the day.
SITHOLE’S GAME IN NUMBERS:
Pass accuracy: 88.4%
Number of passes:43
Aerial duels won: 1
Fouls committed: 3
Long balls: 6
#NB: No other player on the field made more passes.
Earlier this year Sithole told this publication that he will grab his chance whenever he gets it and this past weekend’s performance has proved that the midfielder is ready to take on the world.
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By Prince Sobayeni