Manqoba Mngqithi has lauded Cassius Mailula as one of the best finishers in South African football amid his meteoric rise in the Mamelodi Sundowns first-team.
Mailula, 21, has long been touted as a future star of Masadawana and earned early comparisons to Percy Tau due to his speed and natural finishing ability whilst in the academy set-up.
Having starred in the DStv Diski Challenge and for the club’s reserve team M Tigers it appeared inevitable that he would follow in Tau’s and Keletso Makgalwa’s footsteps, and perhaps even early during his teenage years.
However, injuries curtailed his lack of progression and it’s taken a while before he returned to the form that saw him knocking on the first-team doors at Chlorokop.
After four appearances in all competitions this season, he rewarded the faith of the technical team with a hattrick in the 8-1 win over La Passe in the CAF Champions League second league qualifier this weekend which sealed a 15-1 aggregate win.
“I must say offensively, he probably achieved all our metrics, he was always in all the right positions at the right time,” Mngqithi said when asked about his recent performance.
“Scoring three goals for a young boy like that in the Champions League, it’s something big but I still have a lot of question marks on his behaviour upon losing possession.
“I think that’s an area he needs to improve on, that’s why I’m saying our high press was not very good, not only because of him, it’s a collective. But you were expecting your leading strikers should spearhead your high-press or counter-pressing.
“But these are areas you can easily improve because we know what he is capable of, he’s one of the best finishers in the country and we’ve always known that but we must improve the intensity of his performances.
“The training regime of the first team and the junior team is not the same so naturally, the intensity of a young boy can not immediately be at our level.
“But we’re very impressed with what his offering, which is why he’s regularly been in the team. He’s doing very well in training, if it’s one boy who I know has a goal in him, it’s that boy.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Pitso Mosimane’s new side Al Ahli Saudi have won back-to-back games for a first time this season after beating Al Riyadh on Sunday.
Al Ahli had celebrated their first victory under Mosimane on Tuesday, beating Najran 2-1 thanks to a late winner.
The three points saw Mosimane’s side move into fourth place and on Sunday they traveled to 10th-placed Riyadh.
It was another late winner for Mosimane’s side to make it back-to-back wins after playing for nearly an hour with 11 vs 10 men after Masood Bakheet got sent off for the home side.