Sunday Oct 16, 2022. 17:59
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is ready to play the long game with Cassius Mailula despite scoring a hat-trick in his first CAF Champions League start.
The Downs youth product graduated to the first team this season and made his DStv Premiership debut in the 1-0 win over Chippa United on September 7.
Mailula was handed his CAF Champions League bow against La Passe last weekend as a second-half substitute, but started the second-round, second-leg qualifier on Friday at Loftus Versfeld.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder made quite the impact, scoring three of Masandawana’s eight goals as they eliminated the club from Seychelles 15-1 on aggregate to advance to the group stages.
Mngqithi was impressed with the youngster’s performance on the day, saying his ticked all the boxes in an attacking sense, but admits he still has a lot to learn in other aspects.
“I must say offensively he probably achieved all our metrics,” Mngqithi said. “He was in the right positions and the right timing. Scoring three goals for a young boy like that in the Champions League is something big.
“I still have a lot of question marks over his behaviour upon losing possession. I think that’s an area he must improve on. Our high press was not very good, not because of him but it’s a collective. You’ll expect that your leading strikers should spearhead your high press or your counter-pressing.
“These are areas that can easily improve because we know what he’s 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, especially upon losing possession because in most cases against these teams that sit back, it’s actually the biggest moment for you to score a goal.
“We’re patient; we understand that the training regime in the first team is not the same as the training regime in the junior teams. So naturally the intensity of a young boy cannot immediately be at a top level.
“But we’re very impressed, which is why he’s regularly in our team because he’s doing well even in training. If there’s one boy I know has got a goal in him, it’s that boy.”