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One had to go back to February 2020 for the last time Vilakazi netted – in a 2-1 league win over Bloemfontein Celtic.
The 31-year-old has had horrible luck with injuries – this was his first appearance since the end of January – but now he seems to be working his way up the pecking order again to compete for a starting berth against the likes of Lesedi Kapinga and Haashim Domingo.
A goal off the bench from a player who has not been playing for the last while begs the question – will he suddenly be brought back into the team?
His head coach, Manqoba Mngqithi, has all the answers as he revealed that “Vila” is likely to remain in the 18-man squad as he has impressed the technical team.
“The goal has opened that space for Vilakazi,” said Mngqithi.“It is very encouraging to see Vilakazi coming back with a goal and Rivaldo Coetzee scoring that goal in the dying moments of the first half. It is exciting to see our midfielders starting to get the goals because what counts the most is when you have a team that can score goals from different angles because it is very difficult for opponents to tell where the goals are going to come from,” he added.
The issue of favouritism has always surfaced when selection at Sundowns is concerned, as players like Lebohang Maboe and Mothobi Mvala have bared the brunt of backlash, at least as far as social media is concerned, but the coaches have continued to field them.
“One thing we do with the coaches that I work with is to reward good performances,” Mngqithi explained.
He added: “George Maluleka came on against Al-Hilal and he gave a good performance and he was in the 18-man squad and he got an opportunity to play. Unfortunately the captain (Hlompho Kekana) did not get a chance to play but he also did very well against Al-Hilal but we have got another big one against Belouizdad (on Friday) and we are hoping that some of the players can get a breather so they can help us going forward in the Nedbank Cup.”
Sundowns have already won their Champions League group and secured a place in the quarterfinals heading into Friday’s match. They face Orlando Pirates in a rescheduled Nedbank Cup quarterfinal on April 15.
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