Augustine Mulenga is fast becoming a favourite at Orlando Pirates. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – The Augustine Mulenga fan club, whose members include Zambian football royalty Kalusha Bwalya and Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda, grew tenfold on Wednesday night after the 28-year-old forward opened his Orlando Pirates’ account with a stunning goal.

But now that Mulenga has shown what he can do, there will be a lot of expectation for him to consistently produce moments of brilliance like he conjured up at Orlando Stadium to help the Buccaneers beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 to keep the pressure on table-topping Mamelodi Sundowns. That doesn’t worry the versatile Zambian.

“I don’t have any pressure,” Mulenga said. “I am striker, my job is to score. If I have the opportunity to score, I have to score. I don’t have to think about any pressure. I don’t have any pressure. I just have to do my job. When the coach introduced me (in the 75th minute), I knew what I could offer the team. This wasn’t the first time I scored such a goal. I am used to scoring goals like that. When I got that chance, I took the responsibility and shot because it’s something that I always do at training, no wonder it came out as good as it did.”

Mulenga spoke in a slow, measured tone that didn’t show any emotion moments after the end of a match that was a rollercoaster ride of emotions for the Buccaneers.

That ride will continue in their remaining five matches as they can’t afford any slip-ups since their fate in the league race isn’t in their hands with Sundowns leading by a point and having played one less match. Mulenga’s target in those remaining matches mirrors the Buccaneers’ conservative aspirations.

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“I am a new player here. I have to do well in the remaining games so that next season I can start high on confidence. I haven’t set any target of how many goals I would like to finish with. I know that there are few games remaining. I just have to do my best as a player to improve in each and every game so that by the time next season starts, I hit the ground running,” Mulenga said.

Among the things that helped Mulenga quickly get used to life at Pirates is the sight of a familiar figure in his countryman Justin Shonga. The two have a tough act to follow with a longlist of Zambian attackers who have lit up South African football from Collins Mbesuma to Chris Katongo, Dennis Lota and James Chamanga to name just a few. Lota and Mbesuma donned the Buccaneers jersey just like their countrymen Isaac Chansa and Perry Mutapa.

“My fellow Zambians, what they have done for this club is a big achievement for them,” Mulenga said. “I am looking to achieve more than what they did for this club because it is my time now Mr Kalusha and Wada (Nyirenda) know what I can do and they believe in me. I follow the advice that they give me. They told me that I should push myself at training, just do what I can and everything is possible when I give my all. They told me that when the coach gives me a chance, I should express myself”

The Star

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