Cape Town - Uruguayan Gaston Sirino, who featured as an attacking midfielder in Mamelodi Sundowns' 4-2-3-1 formation, turned in a five-star performance to help the team advance to the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
Sirino was on the scoresheet after only eight minutes of play in Saturday's quarter-final against Clinton Larsen's Summerfield Dynamos. Afterwards, he played a significant role in Sundowns' overall performance with three goal-assists in the side's eventual 5-0 win.
Deservedly, Sirino won the Man-of-the-Match accolade, and Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi was moved to say that the Uruguayan played like a new acquisition.
"With Gaston, it was like a new acquisition for us," said Mngqithi. "We were excited (by his play) as a technical team. When you look at Gastón, you can say this is like a new player for us.
"As he has not played often of late. He is fresh and can still help us going forward. When he performs like this, we get excited.
"When we see a player, who is given an opportunity and then stamping his authority, it encourages us."
Sirino was operating immediately behind lone striker Kermit Erasmus. He was the other Sundowns player who could lay claim to the 'Man of the Match' accolade after scoring two goals with a touch of class.
He was outstanding in his role as a link in the attacking sorties. His form on Saturday was what made him a target in May last year when Pitso Mosimane expressed a desire to bring him to Al Ahly.
Erasmus produced the finishing touches that did justice to Sundowns' possession dominance, and he could force his way into the starting XI for the next two matches this week. It may well be why Erasmus was withdrawn after his second goal and replaced by midfielder Promise Mkhuma, with 30 minutes of playing time left.
Mngqithi was pleased the team performed as expected because Clinton Larsen, the Dynamos manager, had become a potential 'banana skin' for many Sundowns teams in the past.
"Personally, as a coach, there's one paranoia that I have. I am weary of matches which everyone says we're guaranteed to win," explained Mngqithi.
"Those matches are for me the ones where I want us to dig deeper from a training perspective and a motivational perspective.
"While understanding that as a team at any given stage, if it's not about the character it should be that you show us you should play in the big matches.
"By making sure that when you are given a chance against these so-called smaller teams, you show that you are a bigger player than for those small contests."
Taking on a KZN third-tier team playing in the ABC Motsepe League, gave Sundowns a chance to field players who were overlooked of late. As a result, the team showed 10 changes from the one that did midweek duty against Swallows.
"At Sundowns, I find it difficult to know which team is stronger and which one is weaker because these boys are very good," said Mngqithi. "We have a good number of boys who are working very hard to make sure that they plant themselves into the team.
"Looking at a game against Swallows, it was a bit heavy (because of rain during the match). We ran a little bit to make sure we take the three points. Now we had to change the team, refresh it, and bring in these boys because they also deserve an opportunity to play. They are doing well in training."
On Tuesday afternoon, Sundowns host Golden Arrows in a Premiership match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Four days later, Sundowns will be away in Angola for a first-leg Champions League quarter-final clash against Petro de Luanda.