Top Highlands Park striker Peter Shalulile grateful to coach Owen da Gama
Highlands Park top striker Peter Shalulile cannot thank club coach Owen da Gama enough for believing in him when the chips were down during his five-year stay at the Lions of the North.
The 26-year-old Namibian striker came to SA when he was 21 but only came into prominence when he scored 15 league goals for Highlands in the 2017-18 season in the National First Division to help the club bounce back to the topflight after being relegated in the previous campaign.
“He’s one coach who never gave up on me‚” said Shalulile‚ who had a dip in form in January before recovering last month to score three Absa Premiership and three Nedbank Cup goals.
In total Shalulile has netted 12 league goals‚ just two behind the leading scorer Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates.
“To be honest there were times when I would miss an open goal at training and in the game‚ but coach Owen kept his faith in me‚" he continued.
“I had to reward him (Da Gama) by scoring goals.
“And that’s what I’m trying to do‚ to reward him as a player.
“I’m very thankful to that man because with other coaches if you miss in five games they’ll take you out.
“But my coach kept having faith in me and I’m so grateful to him‚ the technical team and my teammates.”
Shalulile said it helps that Da Gama was himself an attacker in his playing days‚ making it easy for them to communicate when he’s struggling with form.
“That’s a nice thing to work with someone who has gone through it because they understand that to be a striker is not an easy job.
“You can miss the ball on the line but the important thing is how you fall and pick yourself up. That’s what I did.”
Highlands will need Shalulile’s boots to continue firing in the coming weeks with two tough home matches against Sundowns both in the cup and league games.
Shalulile’s team will entertain Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup quarterfinal tie on the weekend of March 14-15 and also meet the Brazilians on the following weekend (March 21).
“Now that we know we’re a threat‚ we know that we’re doing the right thing‚” said Shalulile following Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane’s comment about the threat posed by Shalulile after the two teams were drawn against each other in the Nedbank Cup last month.
“People are looking at us in every game‚ in every team they’re threats.
“But for me to hear (Mosimane’s comments)‚ I’m honoured.
“He’s one of the top coaches to be able to say that.
“But yet again‚ we’re looking forward to that (cup) game.
“If you want to see if you’re good you must match yourself against the best.
“As Highlands Park family we’re just going there to do our business‚ not undermining them because they’re the best also.
“Let’s be honest‚ you know‚ and see what we’ll get out of the game.”