Peter Shalulile more than just a goalscorer, says Sundowns’ Rhulani Mokwena
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CAPE TOWN – Life certainly is tough at the top, and PSL Footballer of the Season, Peter Shalulile, is finding out the hard way.
Despite scoring 15 goals last season, and providing crucial assists for his teammates in Sundowns’ run to their fourth successive championship, the Namibian striker still had critics bemoaning some of his misses in front of goal.
And with Shalulile being quiet during the opening two league encounters of the new season, the pressure was further heightened when Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi pointed out a glaring miss that could potentially have changed the course of the game in the goalless stalemate against Chippa United prior to the international break.
Shalulile, though, is a class act and returned from his time with the Namibian team refreshed to put in an energy-filled shift against Kaizer Chiefs over the weekend, terrorising the Amakhosi defenders throughout, before producing the icing on the cake when he sealed the 2-0 victory with a tap-in from close range.
"This guy I think is charged by Duracell," Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena said.
"The reality is Peter is a team player where he sacrifices and puts his body on the line for the team.
"He knows that as it's what we said to him. We said as long as you are at the service of Mamelodi Sundowns, everything else will fall into place.
"We know that it's not just in relation to goals and assists, but there is a lot more to Peter, as the movement to create space, to pull out defenders, the high press, the schemes sometimes are a little bit complicated and different but Peter gives us that.
"As long as he continues to do that. Maybe the best thing we can do is try to find the expensive cotton wool that we can wrap around him because he continues to run and run."
Shalulile will be keen to continue with his scoring form when Mamelodi Sundowns next host TS Galaxy in a league encounter on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Mokwena was full of praise for the entire coaching staff, which includes Mngqithi and Steve Komphela, after a difficult week where he admitted that there had been tension between the three coaches.
"The elephant is out of the room. It's old news. We move on. The talking is done on the pitch and I think the players did the talking. Top performance. Credit to the entire team, to the technical staff. A very good team performance, even with the subs coming in you could see the intensity and the willingness to assist the team to win the game," Mokwena said.
"We worked a bit on different schemes in preparation for the different flexibility because Stuart Baxter is a top coach. He's watched us. He's prepared very well. We worked hard and the result goes to show.
"Big performance from the players. Big, big performance. And all the teams all over the world have to show discipline and character and intensity and good fight and that's what we did."