Pitso Mosimane backs Lebohang Maboe amid boos from some Sundowns fans
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has backed off-form striker Lebohang Maboe to come good.
Maboe, who was one of the key performers in his first campaign for the Brazilians last season as they won the Absa Premiership, scoring crucial goals in all competitions, has struggled with form this season.
“He was a top goal scorer last year but he is struggling this year to score,” Mosimane acknowledged after Downs’ 2-1 league win over Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday night, where Maboe was the target of boos from a small section of his team’s fans at Loftus.
“He is trying too hard to break the ice and I don’t have a problem with a boy who is trying his best to score. His emotions and anxiety are high in front of goals – he is trying very hard to get there but we will support him.”
Maboe is getting chances in the starting line-up in the absence of injured Thapelo Morena. He will get another opportunity from the start against minnows Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in the Nedbank Cup last-32 at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday (kickoff 3pm).
“That’s why he is playing for us and that’s why he was in the starting line-up against Celtic. He will get there – not this year but maybe next year,” said Mosimane, adding that he had to calm fans down when they called for Maboe’s substitution in the second half.
“I calmed the fans down to support the players. You have to calm them down.
“The supporters are on the edge because they want to win the league. We are all under stress – we don’t need Lebo for this match but we need him on Sunday against VUT.”
Mosimane also spoke about his influential but temperamental Uruguayan midfielder Gaston Sirino, who was lucky to escape without a red card against Celtic.
“There we were skating on thin ice. I asked Ali Meza to say, talk to your friend in your language [Spanish], because he will get a second yellow card.
“He played a brilliant game because he is an intelligent player – his level of skills, technique and mastering the ball is unbelievable. AJ [Andile Jali] is also unbelievable – this guy is really marshalling our midfield, he is our number one player in our midfield.
“He is helping Hlompho Kekana to score goals like the one he scored from a free-kick. It’s unbelievable and they work very hard.
“Even ‘Mshishi’ [Themba Zwane] and ‘Vila’ [Sibusiso Vilakazi], who were a little bit quiet, but they have experience and you can see. If you have to lock the game, put it in the pocket and zip it.”